President and CEO's Blog

By Daniel Gentry, PhD, MHA posted 10-03-2023 10:16

Quality Matters
It’s always there, in the back of my mind. I can hear my mother and my grandparents imploring me from a very early age - “If you’re going to do something, do it well.” That has stuck with me. The three of them inspired me with their rigor, “stick-to-it-ness,” and integrity - my grandparents with fifth and eighth grade educations and my mother who is wicked smart til this day but went to work versus going to college after high school graduation. I am a first generation college graduate; doing my best and achieving high quality were instilled in me.
I’ve benefited greatly, over the past 15 years, from being part of what’s lovingly referred to as “Summer Camp” or “Quality Camp,” formally Health Professions Educators Summer Symposium (HPESS). Summer Camp is an interdisciplinary community of educators and practitioners from medicine, nursing, and healthcare management. Each summer we gather for a week to focus on an important and timely topic oriented both toward quality improvement in healthcare and quality improvement in health professions education. In both my 26-year career as a university faculty member and academic leader, and more recently as an association leader and the CEO of AUPHA, I have applied much of my Summer Camp learnings to my work and for the benefit of the teams I have led.
Quality matters with regard to everything we do at AUPHA. As we’ve continuously increased the value of AUPHA membership over the past few years, the AUPHA Board and Management always make the quality of our events, initiatives, products, and all of our sponsored activities, a high priority. It gets noticed. I hear from members weekly: “The staff are so responsive.” “The meeting was the best ever.” “The resources provided by AUPHA are of such high value for our faculty, our program.” 
With all the successes and the excellent reviews and feedback, we can still do better. We can always improve. So we move forward with an intentional approach focused on achieving high quality - using improvement science approaches, tactics, and tools. I’d like to highlight a few of our most recent successes as exemplars of the kind of high quality that we strive to achieve in all that we do at AUPHA.
AUPHA Academic Program and Practitioner Workshop (APPW)
Since returning to face-to-face engagement in 2022, the APPW has attracted record attendance. With planning led by the co-chairs of AUPHA’s Graduate Program Committee, the combination of panels of expert academic and practitioner colleagues, followed by engaging, hands-on experiential sessions have produced evaluations above 4.8 on a 5.0 scale. And at the same time as we’ve increased our expectations for the programming, we’ve added engagement activities for attendees - an AUPHA Reception hosted by the Board and a Hospitality Suite open to all students, practitioners, and AUPHA members.
AUPHA Body of Knowledge (BOK) and Curriculum Guidance (CG)
Eighteen months in creation, and the first comprehensive update in over a decade, the recently released AUPHA BOK is the result of more than 40 talented and hard-working AUPHA member volunteers. The BOK is up from 20 to 25 domains for 2022-2023; went through extensive reviews by the entire AUPHA membership and AUPHA’s partner organizations; and is fully cross-referenced for every domain against the other 24 domains. And, for the first time ever, the BOK is accompanied by a Curriculum Guidance (CG) section. The CG provides advice both for instructors creating and improving individual courses and for program directors and chairs responsible for the full curriculum. 
The response to the new BOK and CG has been overwhelmingly positive. It has been viewed or downloaded over 200 times since its release three months ago. The BOK & CG is an AUPHA members-only benefit. Unlike in the past, the full BOK and CG will be reviewed, updated, and refreshed every other year, moving forward. In alternative years, we will provide new editions of the AUPHA Environmental Scan and Trends Report.
AUPHA Art of Teaching Institute (ATI)
AUPHA has always been the place where academics have looked and come to improve their teaching skills. The recently launched ATI makes this important role of, and purpose for, AUPHA more intentional than ever. I’ve enrolled and been a student in three of the first four course offerings. I have been wowed at the quality of the course content and the instructors. The courses I’ve taken in “Case-Based Learning” from Zac Pruitt, “Making it Real: Approaches and Methods for Integrating Practice and Practitioners into Curricula and Courses” from Julie Robbins and Michael Rozier, and “Inclusive Excellence and Belonging: Creating and Sustaining an Environment in Which All Learners Thrive” with Anne Frankel, Jenn Ibrahim, and Jamie Mansell, are exactly what I needed in the past to be an even more competent and confident instructor. And although I’m no longer teaching formally, the courses are valuable professional development for me given the number of campus visits, guest talks, and conference speeches I make almost weekly now. 
Enrollments in ATI courses are climbing and overall course evaluations have been excellent.
AUPHA Annual Meeting
I attended all plenary and keynote sessions at our 75th Anniversary Annual Meeting in June, and as many education, deep-dive, and collaboration and conversation sessions as I could possibly fit in. I was uniformly impressed with every one of them. And I wasn’t surprised. That’s what happens when you receive almost three times as many proposal submissions as capacity will allow, and when each submission receives six blinded peer-reviews. 
By removing committee meetings, Faculty Forum sessions, and Undergraduate Program Certification review meetings - and making them virtual prior to and after the Annual Meeting - we’ve increased the capacity for AUPHA members to present their scholarly work at the Annual Meeting by one-third since 2019. For four years in a row, the overall satisfaction of Annual Meeting registrants has exceeded 4.75 on a 5.0 scale.
AUPHA Faculty Forum Week
As I draft this column, we’ve just concluded the AUPHA Faculty Forums virtual Zoom sessions for 2023. I attended all 13 sessions, and after each, shared with the AUPHA staff how impressed I was. There were no exceptions. Great collaboration between the Faculty Forum chairs/chairs-elect and AUPHA Membership Director Chris Sanyer. In addition to the high quality, moving these out of the lineup at the Annual Meeting to virtual means that they are accessible (and recorded) for all 4,500+ AUPHA members instead of only the 300-400 members who regularly attend the Annual Meeting. And having them recorded means they are a resource for all Forum subscribers and AUPHA members overall. 
Continuous Quality Improvement
As I shared earlier, we can always improve; we don’t always knock it out of the park the first time around; and that’s especially true for first-time efforts. 
The inaugural edition (2021-2022) of the AUPHA Environmental Scan and Trends Report, released in January 2022, is a good example. This was our first time attempting to produce a timely, relevant report of what’s currently happening and what are likely to be the most challenging issues for both the healthcare industry and higher education. 
While feedback from members was mostly positive, and we heard from many members who were able to put the resource to use right away for academic strategic planning, curriculum and course improvements, and accreditation/certification efforts, we also heard members say they’d like more breadth and depth, and more information about important gaps in program content and competencies. A recent RFP for proposals aims to make improvements and get closer to the high quality mark we target for all AUPHA member benefits. 
Please take advantage of everything AUPHA has to offer; please ensure that all of your faculty (full time, part-time, adjunct, executives/practitioners in residence, etc.), and staff have access to AUPHA’s resources; and please share feedback about how we can improve all that we do. We value your perspective and input, and we are grateful for your membership and engagement.