The National Center for Healthcare Leadership has appeased at least some of its critics by letting them know what it is and why it exists.
Formed last November, the new leadership group intends to redesign how healthcare executives are trained, to produce leaders of large hospitals and large systems from within the industry. Its critics, which include healthcare academics and six other healthcare leadership associations, have questioned whether the organization will merely duplicate their current efforts (April 29, p. 6).
In an attempt to shore up support from academics who teach undergraduates, graduate students and midcareer professionals, the center's leaders presented both the process that led to its formation and a framework for moving it forward at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration's annual conference in Washington late last month.
The organization won points for its willingness to include a number of stakeholders in forming its final product. For example, it recommended creating a council of academics and practitioners to examine the type of leadership, professionalism and operations skills desirable in a healthcare leader.
"The feathers have been smoothed," said Gordon Brown, chairman of the department of health management and informatics at the University of Missouri's School of Medicine in Columbia.
Brown supports the center's concept but has been an open critic of its possible process and structure. The presentation, which highlighted cooperation, eased his fears that the NCHL's efforts would be duplicative, could waste resources and lead to infighting among existing leadership groups. "These questions have been answered," Brown said.
The center's focus on training people for high-level healthcare systems makes sense to Daniel Fahey, associate professor in the health science and human ecology department of California State University in San Bernardino, who attended the session.
"The paranoia is, who is going to do the training? I think we can bring a lot to the table," said Fahey, who embraced the new program.
That is the type of response Ross Baker, chairman of both the AUPHA and the new center's Core Competency Council, has looked for. "We need to be thinking about this from a system perspective," he said.
On a simple level, the leadership center addresses a recruitment issue. On a complex level, it addresses creating a work environment that brings together managers and clinicians, he said.