The Ins and Outs of AUPHA: It’s All About Relationships
As I approach my one-year anniversary of assuming the role of President and CEO of AUPHA, I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened the past year. About our progress as a community, even in the face of the worst global pandemic in over 100 years. And I’ve been reflecting on how I spend my time - my work with our very talented AUPHA team, dedicated and hard-working Board, all of you - the AUPHA community, and our partner organizations and leaders in the health professions and higher education.
Upon reflection, it feels like in typical weeks I divide my time fairly evenly across internal AUPHA matters and AUPHA’s work with our partner organizations. Learning and growth and improvement within AUPHA and what we do for you, our members; and, exploring and expansion and impact outside of AUPHA with regard to our important common-cause partnerships.
The commonality for me, whether within AUPHA or outside of AUPHA, is the profound importance of relationships. Recently, I shared with the inaugural cohort of undergraduate inductees of the Rutgers University Chapter of Upsilon Phi Delta, our AUPHA-sponsored Healthcare Management Honor Society, that over the years I’d come to find some disfavor with the term “networking.” It sounds technical, a bit calculated, and even cold. I encouraged them to think about professionals they meet in terms of the opportunity to form new relationships, to nurture and grow those relationships, and to really get to know people for who they are and what they are about. It’s not about how many business cards you give out or collect, it’s about making a real connection; one that might last, and one that will enrich both people and bring each some joy.
When I was preparing to leave academia in early 2020, and still not knowing for certain yet that I would be offered the leadership position with AUPHA, I now admit to great worry about the possible loss of relationships that I’d formed, nurtured, and come to value so greatly over the past 30 years. I’d shared with faculty, staff, student, and alumni colleagues that I wanted to find a way to work with more than one academic program at a time, and to contribute to improvement of the field I love so much - but on a scale not possible in my prior roles. It brings me great professional and personal joy to have the honor and privilege to now be working with 260 academic programs, and several thousand faculty, staff, and practitioners that make AUPHA the robust and dynamic, richly diverse, and deeply sharing community that we are.
I am finding similar joy in being AUPHA’s primary spokesperson for our field and ambassador to our important partner organizations. In the past year, we have strengthened our relationships with longtime partners like ACHE, the Baxter International Foundation, CAHME, the David A. Winston Health Policy Fellowship/Scholarships, FASHP, Academy of Management, and others. And we have made good progress in forging new or renewed partnerships with AcademyHealth, IHF, Modern Healthcare, NAHSE, and NAHQ, just to name a few. And like our efforts together within AUPHA, this work is about relationships. It is not “transactional” for me; it is, instead, about exploring ways we can work together to improve the fields of healthcare management and health policy education, and healthcare management and leadership practice. Where can we work together to add value, to achieve something important we might not accomplish separately? That’s the power of partnerships, the magic of teamwork - it’s all about relationships.