Management of healthcare facilities has often been assigned to medical practitioners available at the hospital. Dr Sohail Rao, a distinguished medical professional in the US, thinks it’s time Pakistan takes a cue from the West and leaves health provision as well as management of health providing establishments to pure professionals.
e recently had the distinct pleasure to visit the campus of the University of Sciences (USciences) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The primary motivation for this visit was to satiate our curiosity as to how institutions of higher education that are primarily focused on programs related to health sciences are organized to offer bachelor or master’s degree in business and/or hospital administration. We met with a number of students on the campus who were either enrolled in a stand-alone MBA program and/or dual program at USciences.The most striking observation was the fact that the co-mingling of students in the management program with their peers in health sciences was universally viewed as the most distinct advantage by both learners as well as faculty. The adoption of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching management skills to students who were immersed in a healthcare teaching and learning environment provided distinct advantage to the graduates of the BBA and/or MBA programs who were industry-ready, knowledgeable, competent, adaptable and demonstrated a behavior that best suited the dynamically changing landscape in the work environment.
All major liberal arts universities in North America, European Union or Australia that offer BBA and/or MBA programs with concentration in hospital/health sciences management are obligated to establish partnerships with hospitals and/or health sciences institutions of higher learning to provide relevant educational and training experience to their students. Such a collaboration/affiliation is anything but symbiotic, ultimately resulting in a serious disadvantage for the students. More importantly the advantages of interdisciplinary teaching and learning, which facilitates higher-order thinking skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, metacognitive reflection, etc, are lost in such isolated environments to a large extent.
Additional disadvantage of such a sequestered teaching and learning environment is the gradual attrition of explanatory capacity of knowledge and skills that constraints the ability to view challenges from multiple viewpoints. It also leads to deterioration of student’s “affective” gains, thus negatively impacting their motivation, participation, self-confidence and drive to succeed.
It is undeniable that healthcare is rapidly undergoing dynamic transformation and is heavily influenced by political, financial and environmental factors. Managing a complex integrated healthcare facility requires strong business and administrative skills that are unique to this industry. Up until recent past, most of the administrative leadership positions in hospitals and healthcare facilities in North America were occupied by physicians who frankly had nominal experience and expertise in the management of such complex business enterprises. Many of them were mediocre change agents in an industry that demands strategic plasticity.
Recognizing this predicament and its unwarranted effect in eroding people’s trust in the sustainability of healthcare industry, in 1908, William Mayo, MD and Harry Harwick placed into practice the model of “DYAD” at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN with the acknowledgement that a truly integrated healthcare delivery system must have a joint and mutually productive partnership between a physician leader and a seasoned administrator. Today, in most healthcare facilities in North America, this DYAD leadership model has percolated itself to the level of individual service lines and has proven to be effective in better management of delivery of care to the patients. If one takes a step back and reexamines what has worked in this industry for effective management of integrated healthcare facilities, it is no surprise that the physician-administrator model of DYAD has been most effective. It would, therefore, be logical to advance this concept to the learning and training phase of a student’s life who is aspiring to be a healthcare administrator ensuring that they are cultivated in an integrated environment that they would ultimately embrace as a professional.
It is invigorating to recognize that in Pakistan with the approval of the Higher Education Commission, some healthcare universities are offering BBA and MBA programs. The Dow University of Health Sciences had established an Institute of Business and Health Management which offers both BBA and MBA degrees. Similar programs are also offered by other healthcare institutions in Pakistan such as Jinnah Sindh Medical University. The core element of these programs is an early immersion in an integrated healthcare environment exposing them to practical knowledge that supplements their theoretical learning thus creating a powerful tool for life-long professional success that is enduring and incomparable.
It is our sincere hope that such hybrid models of teaching and training in healthcare and other related and unrelated disciplines will be promoted by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan as well as by ancillary accrediting bodies. Institutions of higher education in Pakistan that predominantly offer degrees/diplomas in healthcare must be encouraged to propose such hybrid programs, provided they are malleable to the dynamically changing needs of the industry, thus creating a workforce that is adequately prepared and have the competence, skills and attitude to be of material value as professionals Rameez is fourth year student at St Georges University, School of Medicine, Grenada.
Dr Sohail Rao is the president & chief executive officer of DHR Health Institute for Research & Development, Edinburg, TX. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org