In the first couple of weeks at Imperial, I realised that one of the first things I had to change about myself, was my perspective.
Having worked in the public health industry for three years, I had thought the perspective I brought to the MSc International Health Management programme was to my advantage.
Doubtlessly, I was wrong. During our first week, our class had the privilege of observing a simulated emergency response pathway exercise held by the Centre for Engagement and Clinical Simulation at the Chelsea & Westminister Hospital. After the simulation was done, we broke up into groups to discuss what we had observed. My capable classmates raised everything from clinical efficiencies to the advantages of simulation training (patient outreach and staff training, among others) – but we all had one thing pointed out us. The Cost.
We didn’t think about how financially efficient it is, to work out clinical inefficiencies, to educate the community, and train staff, based off a simulation. I spent three years as a communications executive in a public hospital, being involved in everything from patient education, to operational support, to crisis management plans and even scientific conferences. While I had learnt much from my time working, I had to shed all of that for one thing – a set of (fashionably framed) glasses I call The Management Perspective. The Management Perspective, as I’ve found out over the past month, has three broad categories: Cost, Time, Staff.
As a manager, you ultimately need to be concerned with the bottomline. In the industry, financial capabilities are a real and sometimes limiting concern. Resources, new initiatives, marketing plans and strategies, as effective as they are, need to be considered with a budget in mind. The cost of a project will have to be measured against its impact, thus evaluating its efficacy. The creative professional in me is often concerned only with the brainstorming process of new initiatives to engage my patient; so far the first weeks of the programme has drummed into me the need to be more aware of the institution’s financial position.
Tying in to cost, The Management Perspective also needs the (hopeful) manager to keep a timeline in mind, alongside the big picture. A timeline is a requisite part of any project plan, and the manager has to understand the importance of putting into place a realistic and achievable timeline. The importance of this particular aspect of management links in to cost – a timeline must be kept to in order to keep to a budget; time in a management capacity is an invaluable resource that needs to be deftly managed in order to be most efficient.
In the healthcare industry specifically, people – doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, administrative professionals – are our biggest resource, and greatest investment. As a manager in the industry, staff should be an organisation priority. I’ve constantly been involved in engagement initiatives for staff and patients, but only in these first few weeks did I realise just how important they are. A successful project roll-out – be it in technological implementation, or patient education—needs significant buy-in from your staff, and engaging them can be half the battle won in terms of a project’s success.
Changing a perspective can be a difficult process, but taking it in incremental amounts – learning from experienced industry experts (lecturers and adjunct lecturers!) is a big help. I’ve learnt that going into class with an open mind is key to absorbing the most out of it. Keep what you already know on the back-burner, as it’ll still surely come in useful, but keep in mind that we are all going to be learning something new every day!
Kristie is currently studying MSc International Health Management