Valerie P. Pracilio, MPH
Project Manager for Quality Improvement
Last month, nearly 120 students and health professionals gathered in Boston at the Student Quality Leadership Academy (SQLA), organized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). The participants entered into a network of nearly 100,000 students from around the world that are part of the IHI Open School community.
One might say they were already leaders when they arrived, since they self-selected to participate in this two-day Academy, but the IHI staff and program faculty strengthened those skills through sharing personal experiences and the fundamentals of good leadership practices.
Prominent healthcare leaders including Don Berwick, Diana Chapman Walsh and Allan Frankel were among the faculty and the interdisciplinary group of participants representing medicine, nursing, health administration and engineering – all in various stages of training.
So many discussions about leadership and teams begin by focusing on culture. The Leadership Academy was no different. Not surprisingly, the meeting kicked off in the IHI office in Cambridge where the first thing you see upon exiting the elevator is the organization’s mission.
The workspace is open to foster collaboration and the walls are adorned with charts tracking progress on key initiatives and quotes reminding the staff about the importance of their work. One particular quote that grabbed my attention was by Anne Frank, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Coincidentally it was painted on a wall in a waiting area where I did not once see anyone sitting. Needless to say, IHI is not simply teaching about good leadership, the organization is filled with live examples.
The Academy served to strengthen the community of improvement leaders through substantive discussions, networking and collaborative case reviews. Some of the nuggets that the participants left with were: never worry alone, always be honest and give/seek feedback early and often.
Some returned to their institutions with new ideas about how to be effective leaders. Others renewed their passion for improvement. All left Boston as members of a community of leaders that will truly have an impact on health care.