As I start my year as AUPHA Board Chair, I must look back before looking forward. The first AUPHA meeting I attended was in 1994 in San Diego. I was a Ph.D. student and was presenting a paper with Dr. Larry Gamm. At that meeting, I met so many icons in the field and was surprised how welcoming they were to a Ph.D. student. I have experienced that welcoming feeling time and time again and from my perspective it is a cornerstone of why AUPHA is important to me. Since my first meeting I have seen AUPHA change and grow. AUPHA is now more inclusive and diverse. By that I mean both in terms of organizational and individual members. However, even though progress has been made we still have more work to be done.
I am very fortunate to follow some talented AUPHA board chairs that have worked with committed board members to build a strong foundation. AUPHA has adequate resources and reserves, growth is steady, we have a dedicated and gifted staff, and we are starting the third year in the strategic plan with multiple initiatives ongoing. It is time to take stock of how the organization is fulfilling the strategic plan and initiatives. The board plans on doing some assessment on how the organization is doing and what needs to be done to prepare for the future.
When I took my first (and only) faculty position I remember the Dean asking me about my vision for the health care management program. I responded simply “I want the program to be AUPHA certified.” To me that was the gold standard for an undergraduate health care management program. I have literally “grown-up” as a faculty member associated with AUPHA. I earned my Ph.D. at a program that has a long history of being affiliated with AUPHA. In 2004, the Dean committed resources for Winthrop University to become members of AUPHA. Winthrop University has been a member ever since and some of my success as a professor and educator can be traced back to information I learned from colleagues at various AUPHA meetings. That brings me to one area I want to focus on this year – member value. I want AUPHA to continue to add value to members and improve the health care management profession. An exciting action the AUPHA Board took at the June meeting was to create an Interprofessional Task Force on Professionalism consisting of faculty and practitioners headed by Mark Diana and Mike Meacham. The task force is still in the formulation stage. Please watch for more information forthcoming.
One might speculate that both the health care and higher education industries are in a state of change. Health care organizations are facing numerous challenges as are institutions of higher education. Yet despite these challenges as educators our task remains the same. Develop competent and caring health care managers and leaders for the workforce, while conducting scholarship the increases the body of knowledge. The world is more connected, moves at a fast pace, and demands quick results. This fall marks the 26th anniversary of the first semester I taught. The students in that class are different the student in my upcoming fall class. Not better or worse, just different. It is my goal that AUPHA will continue to have a vital role in helping faculty prepare for the upcoming differences. We still are a positive influence for our students and the health care field.
As the fall semester nears I am reminded of the duty and obligation we have as educators. On the first day of class in the Introduction to Health Care Management class I ask students three ways health care different than all other industries? After a bit of discussion, the class never seems to get all three. So, I summarize for them. First, in health care we can do everything right and still have such a horrific outcome as death. Everybody dies. Second, in this industry one can experience the highest of emotional highs (a birth) and the lowest of lows (a death) in one day. No other industry runs the gambit of emotions. And finally, we must remember needs are infinite, resources are finite. Because of that simple statement there will never be a perfect health care system. But that does not mean we can’t work together to make the best system we can. I am excited and looking forward at working together to make the system better.