Two years into a push to overhaul health leadership education, the National Center for Healthcare Leadership said it will greatly expand an experimental curriculum makeover to 10 schools from four.
The NCHL's effort aims to address shortcomings among graduates and improve healthcare quality by applying the Chicago-based professional development group's core leadership competencies. One of the eight areas in need of improvement at the four NCHL test schools is accountability, according to the NCHL.
The organization in 2004 first recruited the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Simmons College and University of Washington to work the competencies into their classes and the schools recently have begun modifying courses.
Early results for the first four schools show faculty rely heavily on formal lectures, speakers and reading assignments to teach instead of experience, coaching or self- and group evaluations, which are considered more realistic, or workplacelike, methods of learning, said Judith Calhoun, associate professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Calhoun is the lead researcher in the NCHL's effort to collect and analyze outcomes of schools' reforms.
Now, funded by corporate donations, the NCHL will undertake a similar analysis with six yet-to-be selected schools. The cutoff for applications is in early March and in April the leadership group will distribute a curriculum analysis guidebook to members of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration.
Marie Sinioris, NCHL president and chief executive officer, said healthcare's complexity and quality-improvement efforts are behind the organization's "market driven" drive to revamp health-management course offerings. "Those that want to be in the game and be responsive to (the market) are realizing they can't teach with the same methods and same curriculum," she said.
When it comes to what-instead of how-schools teach, the four test sites solidly covered a half-dozen subjects and skills of 26 considered critical by the NCHL, but fell short in eight others. Accountability was one of eight NCHL competencies lacking emphasis in all four schools curricula. The list also included: talent development, impact and influence, organizational design and process management, project management, human resource development, self-development and community orientation.
Among the subjects well-covered: IT management, innovative thinking, interpersonal understanding, strategic orientation, organizational awareness and analytic thinking. "Boy, did we have the analytic thing covered, 10 ways to Sunday," said John Lowe, director and associate professor of healthcare administration at Simmons College. The Boston school annually admits 50 midcareer executives, who work and take courses simultaneously, he said.
Using the NCHL's list of subjects, skills and teaching methods, the school has started to modify its graduate degree to put a greater emphasis on student initiative and experience. The traditional lecture-and-leave style of learning won't work, he said. "You can't do that anymore," he continued. Exams and papers don't sufficiently evaluate students' ability to apply what they've learned. Simmons' analysis of its weaknesses found courses needed to better incorporate lessons on self-confidence, achievement orientation and accountability.