At Mercy, where I serve as regional president in Oklahoma, we work hard to provide our employees with access to education through scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs because we want to grow our communities, display our commitment to our staff and strengthen our culture. There is nothing like having a team of loyal, passionate employees who feel supported by their leaders. As ACHE chairman, an important part of my role is to support the organization in its mission to advance its members by providing them with similar opportunities to gain pertinent knowledge.
To pursue lifelong learning, healthcare leaders should engage in periodic assessments that take stock of their competencies in critical healthcare management knowledge areas, leadership skills, emotional intelligence and career aspirations.
Another avenue to continuous learning is regular review of healthcare management periodicals, journals and books that provide insight into the trends and challenges affecting the field and other resources offering broad-based business management information.
Equally important to continued skill and knowledge development is participating in a variety of formal educational offerings that provide a balance between healthcare-specific and general management education. Among the ACHE's educational opportunities, program topics range from quality and safety, patient-centered care, physician integration and financial strategies.
ACHE programming is available for all career stages in distance-learning and face-to-face formats and includes those programs offered through its network of local chapters. Regardless of the source, a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education annually is recommended by the ACHE's policy statement—“Lifelong Learning and the Healthcare Executive”—for healthcare leaders to remain effective.
Healthcare leaders also should seek certification in their profession. Credentials go beyond demonstrating competence in a given field. The ACHE's requirements for board certification include an ongoing commitment to continuing education and participation in face-to-face programming with other healthcare leaders, which ensures a sustained level of excellence for the individual and the industry.
Networking is another key method of professional development. One-on-one sharing of information, strategies and solutions can advance learning within organizations and across the field. By participating in professional societies and their local chapters, including their social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, healthcare leaders can improve their own performance and also help others learn. Involvement with state and national trade groups also can contribute to individual growth and benefit our organizations and communities.
To establish a foundation for lifelong learning among future healthcare leaders, the ACHE works to create links to students and the academic community. Through its Higher Education Network—comprising more than 200 healthcare administration programs—the ACHE promotes interaction between practicing healthcare executives and health administration students.
The ACHE also offers a website—healthmanagementcareers.org—geared to high school and college students seeking information about healthcare management and encourages its members to make career presentations to students. The ACHE recognizes the value that Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education-accredited graduate programs with face-to-face instruction and field experience can provide to students looking to enter the healthcare management field. The ACHE also acknowledges the benefit of postgraduate fellowships and provides resources to help organizations offer and students find postgraduate learning opportunities.