67_How Healthcare’s Academic Communities Are Reinventing Themselves with Chuck Stokes and Dr. Paula Song

Hosted by Quint Studer with special guests Chuck Stokes and Dr. Paula Song

This week Quint talks with Chuck Stokes, interim department chair at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Department of Health Services Administration, and Dr. Paula Song, Richard M. Bracken professor and chair of the Department of Health Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University. The discussion centers on how universities are preparing students for careers in healthcare and supporting those already in their career, in light of the pace and scope of change we all must navigate.

Educators are rethinking how they do things, shifting modalities, and adjusting instruction to meet the changing needs and expectations of students and practitioners as they grapple with changing circumstances. Stokes and Song see this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves. Listeners will learn about a few things the academic community is doing differently.

Here’s an overview:
Providing simulation programs (It’s not just the what but the how). There’s a lot of power in putting students in real-life situations that require both hard and soft skills. Instructors put them through a simulation to see how they deal with a situation and give them feedback on it.

Creating more options and providing more support for people already working in the field. Programs are allowing more flexibility for working professionals, whether they’re early, mid, or late careerists. One example is the tailored certificate options in sub-specialties to supplement master’s programs (including topics like health equity, financial management, and climate and sustainability).

Giving students various opportunities to gain different perspectives in all sorts of ways. For instance, they’re partnering with national associations and making sure their programming includes broader health communities. Students are exposed to different career stories and the unique challenges providers and patients face.

Providing more assessments and coaching before students enter the workplace. For example, early testing on personality profiles gives them insight on what they need to work on. There’s a big focus on self-reflection.

Looking to build lifelong partnerships with students. Schools are focused on helping students continue lifelong learning and development throughout their career and helping them leverage the value of alumni communities.

Forming partnerships with healthcare organizations in the community. Faculty are spending more time in local hospitals, which informs them on what’s really happening on the ground in real time. This gives schools an opportunity to help improve the health status of their community by solving problems. It also helps build important relationships for students.

Aiming a laser focus at engagement. This is one of the biggest issues facing our industry. Engagement impacts safety/high reliability, reduces costs, improves consumer-centered care, and boosts innovation. How well the academic community trains leaders to engage and motivate their workforce will be paramount to our success.

Encouraging professionals to get involved in their local healthcare education programs (even if they aren’t alums). Schools are eager for students to hear different voices, see different experiences, and be exposed to a variety of career paths. People don’t need to be formally tied to a program to have an impact and be important mentors and coaches for students.

About Chuck Stokes

In December of 2019, Chuck Stokes retired from Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, Texas, after serving eight years as their system EVP and COO and two-and-a-half years as system president and CEO.

Chuck started his career as a critical care nurse after receiving his BSN from the University of Mississippi, and transitioned to executive healthcare leadership after receiving his MHA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Chuck is a two-time recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (2006 and 2016). He served as chairman for the Board of Governors of the American College of Healthcare Executives and was their 2020 Gold Medal Award recipient.

In 2020, Modern Healthcare named Chuck as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. Chuck also received the 2020-2021 University of Mississippi Medical Center Nursing Alumnus of the Year Award and the 2021 Baldrige Foundation Award for Leadership Excellence.

In July 2021, Chuck accepted the position of interim department chair at UAB in the Department of Health Services Administration. Chuck will see the department through its new chair transition.

About Paula Song

Paula H. Song, PhD, MA, MHSA, is the Richard M. Bracken professor and chair of health administration at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Song’s research expertise includes healthcare finance, accountable care organizations (ACOs), payment reform, community benefit, and utilization and access for vulnerable populations, including the underinsured and children with disabilities. Her current research interests focus on innovative financing and delivery mechanisms to improve the delivery of healthcare. She has expertise using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Dr. Song teaches graduate-level courses in healthcare financial management and has coauthored several leading textbooks in healthcare finance. Dr. Song is the 2020 recipient of the John D. Thompson Prize from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration.