Chair's Blog April 2018

By Keith J. Benson, PhD posted 04-23-2018 16:52


Change and Value

I was recently asked what I learned while serving as AUPHA Board Chair. The first and overwhelming item is how prevalent, potentially disruptive, and important change is in today’s operating environment. I have been working in higher education since 1991 and my first AUPHA event was in 1992. The health care, the higher education, and even AUPHA’s operating environment is very different today. The pressures, competition, and scrutiny are much higher than previously. I often tell students the health care environment is dynamic. This past year I have been borrowing a medical term and saying the environment is hyperdynamic. What do I mean by hyperdynamic?  The intensity of change within the operating environment is greater; the pace of change, often fueled by technology is faster; and the flow of resources is more constrained. I do not want to sound like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling.  In fact, I think the opposite.  After serving as AUPHA Board Chair, I see the talent and adaptability in programs and faculty to prepare students for the future health care environment.  AUPHA is positioned to continue to be the premier organization for educational programs and faculty preparing the next generation of health care managers and leaders. That leads to the second point I want to make – value.

The same person asked me what “keeps me up at night” as AUPHA Board Chair. My answer is we need to keep providing and demonstrating the value we add to programs and faculty. AUPHA started out 70 years ago focusing on just master’s level programs.  Over time, baccalaureate programs came into the fold.  Next, as new teaching modality, online, grew in prevalence, online programs entered in to the mix.  The evolutionary process of AUPHA needs to continue.   There has been a great expansion in the number of higher education institutions offering healthcare management programs ranging from community colleges to doctoral programs. Additionally, there has been a growth of higher education healthcare programs outside the United States. Is it time to start a discussion on how AUPHA membership can continue to add value to any higher education healthcare management program, regardless of format, setting, or location? After all, AUPHA’s mission “fosters excellence and innovation in health management and policy education, and scholarship.”

A critical concern is the declining resources in higher education. The closure of higher education institutions has accelerated. Others are facing forced or voluntary mergers.  Perhaps Christensen’s 2011 prediction on the closing or bankruptcy of some colleges and universities is starting?  Again, I am not proclaiming the sky is falling but an opportunity is present.  AUPHA must continue to develop and enhance mutually beneficial relationships with strategic partners that benefit members.  This process will involve many questions and some difficult conversations.  However, for change to be productive we must embrace this process.   At this time I am reminded of Nelson Mandela’s quote “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” AUPHA has an opportunity to further the organization’s vision “to develop leaders who possess the values and competencies necessary to drive improvement throughout the health system.” Working with programs, faculty, and strategic partners we (AUPHA Members) can provide the education to develop the leaders who change the health system and help improve the world!