The Importance of Investing in Faculty

  • By: James A. Rice, Ph.D.
  • Published Date: January 2013

“We get good short term value from our adjunct faculty who work in the local health industry, but as volunteers it is difficult to ask them to modernize their course materials. They have good experiences, but may not be good teachers.”

-University Dean, East Africa

Great text books and case studies are not enough for the success of new generation of leadership training programs. What really matters is superior faculty.

Sustainable leadership learning is a function of sustainable leadership faculty; faculty that continuously work to enhance the design of their curricula, the content of the lessons, the quality of their case studies, and the effectiveness of their teaching methods. But these attributes of great faculty are not easy to achieve in LMICs.

In collaboration with the North American-based AUPHA (Association of University Programs in Health Administration), our LMG Project has explored insights into the development of successful university- and ministry-based health services leadership programs. Ramirez and West[1] observe that while faculty development is key to leadership development, faculty in LMICs face a series of frustrations where faculty are too often:

  • In an organizational environment that does not value teaching;
  • Only part-time with little time nor incentive to clearly define the learning objectives for the health sector managers and leaders, nor update their course materials, teaching methods and case studies;
  • Receive weak compensation arrangements;
  • Lacking in benchmarking to superior academic organizations; and
  • Frustrated by poor information systems to monitor or nurture networking and leadership progress among students and graduates.

To overcome these frustrations, successful leadership academies in universities and ministries of health will need to invest creativity and resources into these faculty development imperatives:

Build the Capacity of Leadership Academy to House Faculty

  • Establish a clear strategic and financial plan for the Leadership Academy that addresses educational goals, philosophy of transformational learning principles (see above), and one that is willing to experiment with new web-based tools such as the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course);  one such resource is here: https://www.canvas.net/
  • Recruit faculty that have both solid academic and prior leadership work experiences.
  • Develop a bold compensation and performance management/development system to stimulate faculty and continuous improvement in the classroom.
  • Establish strong political relationships within the university and/or ministry of health to support world-class education and careers of impact for future health sector leaders.

Faculty Must Value Leadership and Management Roles in Health Care

  • Develop a clear proposition of the value of leadership and management in health care that interested countries can identify with.
  • Communicate the evidence that demonstrates the relationship between improved leadership and management and improved outcomes.
  • Support policy efforts to raise the profile and credibility of leadership and management development.
  • Clearly link the paradigm shift of improved leadership and management with the work of the Global Health Workforce Alliance capacity‐building initiative

(See http://www.who.int/workforcealliance/en/).

Case-Based Education of Current Leader-Managers

  • Work with in‐country champions—both individuals and institutions—to integrate the basics on leading teams and leading change into pre-service and in‐service learning opportunities for doctors, nurses, and new managers already facing the challenges described.
  • Build, continuously refine and energetically rely on practical case study leadership learning opportunities.
  • Research and share guidance on effective approaches for individual and organizational accountability, and the rewards related to improved leadership and management.

Develop Future Leader-Managers

  • Gain clarity on the nature of health workers’ and managers’ jobs to ensure that faculty encourage practical preparation for meeting job demands as part of pre‐service and in-service learning.
  • Share learning methods and models so that programs can be efficiently adapted and applied at the pre‐service levels.

Establish Credentialing and Partnerships

  • Engage in dialogue with international schools and associations to scale up cost‐effective leadership and management development case studies, course materials, and teaching methods.
  • Build alliances with accrediting bodies such as the AUPHA (See www.aupha.org ) to establish recognized requirements and credentials, as well as faculty continuing education requirements and offerings.

The faculty of LMIC training programs for health services management must also be shaped by recognition of the context in which leaders earn followers.  “One of the biggest challenges facing health managers and health service providers is how to turn a demoralized or overworked and stressed staff into a proactive, motivated team that delivers high-quality health services every day. Weak management systems are major contributors to the frustration and the sense of futility that countless professionals feel when they are not able to make sustainable contributions to improved health outcomes.”[2]

It is important to note that any attempt to improve management systems without addressing the needs of the people who do the work is bound to end in disappointment, more stress, and even lower morale, reinforcing a vicious circle of ineffectiveness and inefficiency. Addressing this challenge requires attention to both systems and people at every level.


[1] Professors West and Ramirez are the AUPHA Liaisons to the LMG Project to foster enhanced academic programming in low and middle income countries. Dr. West is the Chairman and Professor in the Department of Health Administration and Human Resources, University of Scranton;  Dr. Bernardo Ramirez is an Assistant Professor and Director of Global Health Initiatives of the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the University of Central Florida.

[2] Health Systems in Action; an eHandbook for leaders and managers. The handbook is available for download on the Internet at  www.msh.org/resource-center/health-systems-in-action.cfm .

James A. Rice, PhD., is the Project Director for the Leadership, Management, and Governance Project.

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