The only constant in healthcare is change: what was accepted best practice can change as new evidence comes to light or new research is undertaken. Whether someone is a nurse, clinical specialist or hospital CEO, adapting to change is essential in a world that is making increasing demands on healthcare services.
The Covid pandemic proved to be a test for the robustness of health systems around the world: concepts, knowledge, research and recruitment of healthcare workers changed daily; coordinating and communicating between people requires effective transformational leadership.
Can this be taught?
Professor AWS Alshamsan, Secretary-General at Saudi Commission for Health Specialities (SCFHS) says that this is a task it’s too important to leave to chance:
“For the last 30 years, the Saudi Commission was responsible for equipping healthcare practitioners with the competencies needed to deliver healthcare services. In the future, the health system will require a healthcare practitioner that would conduct leadership skills that should be embedded within its core curricula. This will require a lot of talent and a lot of competencies and the Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) will be a great asset for that.”
The drive to create the HLA came from a need recognised by H.E. Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, former Minister of Health: "One of the biggest mandates that I was assigned to do during my tenure as Minister of Health was to lead a major transformation of the health sector, to provide better access and quality of health services. We discussed this challenge within the board, so it was a suggestion that we create an Academy to cater for both the development of leaders and the development of the technical expertise that is needed for the transformation.”
Ms Dina Alismail, Executive Director of Learning and Innovation and Board Member at Healthcare Leadership Academy explains that the HLA provides a portfolio of programs covering every facet of leadership and management needed by healthcare leaders: “We design and deliver world-class learning experiences, programs and journeys that are uniquely tailored based on local context, while reflecting global perspectives. Our programs aim to provide skills and deep insights through immersive experiential learning, personalized coaching and projects that address healthcare leadership challenges specifically, while providing networking opportunities needed for career growth.”
In the last two years, HLA has provided over 26,000 learning hours and reached out to more than 100,000 healthcare providers through various initiatives and programs. Dr. Sami Yousif, Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Leadership Academy says that his organization has a clear role: “HLA develops leaders who are capable of inspiring change and achieve transformational goals anywhere in the world. HLA is healthcare-focused, our programs are evidence-based and we cater for all professional levels, whether it’s for emerging leaders, middle leaders or senior leaders.”
Prof. Ayman Abdo, Board Member at Healthcare Leadership Academy and former Secretary-General of Saudi Commission for Health Specialities says that leadership is not confined to the top of an organization: “Leadership is about influence. It’s a critical role. When we train a CEO of a big hospital, it’s different than when we train a nurse, for example. How do you cater for learners’ needs is a very difficult and complicated issue. You need to document that you’re adding value to this environment and then adapt and change, according to what you’re experiencing.”
While the HLA collaborates with international academies, universities, and healthcare systems, it remains a proud part of the Saudi health ecosystem, challenged by H.E. Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, to be among the top five leadership academies in the world.
Dr. Sami Yousif says that embracing the opportunities offered by digital technology is key to achieving this aim:
“We want to empower healthcare providers, engage them and motivate them to become better leaders. We do this through our programs and offerings. This could be done also in person, in any part of the world, or through our learning experience platform, on remote basis.”
For H. E. Dr Majed Al Fayyadh, CEO at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center; Board Chairman at Healthcare Leadership Academy, indicated that the role of the HLA is both current and long term: “The Health Leadership Academy is a house of knowledge that promotes change and teaches the next generation of healthcare leaders. This is going to be a continuous mission. I would like other Leadership Academies to come and learn from our experience of not only producing leaders, but also producing the science, education, training and research. We have to prepare healthcare leaders for what’s happening today. But we have to anticipate what’s going to be needed for tomorrow.”