April 13, 2016

Why We Do What We Do: Marguerite M. Callaway

Growing up in Southern Arizona near the Mexican border, Marguerite Callaway was exposed to many cultures, which ultimately influenced her decision to pursue graduate education in international nutrition, cognitive and developmental psychology, and business. Her career includes position in executive leadership and and partnerships in several international management consultancies, which led to Callaway founding her own leadership institute. 

Callaway currently partners with the GHLI on the Advanced Health Management Program in South Africa.  In this role, Callaway says she had to find the balance with her sphere of concern (global) with her sphere of influence (local).

Callaway shares three insights she has learned in her years as a health care professional:  1) Unfamiliar circumstances often cause discomfort. The more aware we are of how core beliefs affect our personal and professional behavior, the greater our capacity to excel in the global community; 2) When working across cultures, our preferred method may seem efficient, but these assumptions can create barriers to ingenuity; 3) Good intentions and the right motivation are important, but practical skills are a necessity in the health care field.

Callaway emphasizes that the success of any health care initiative depends on how well we listen and adapt to meet the needs of our beneficiaries. She notes that GHLI staff hear what our partner’s goals are and don’t apply ‘cookie cutter’ solutions to its various programs around the globe.  She says that workers/educators “from the outside” can offer insight, tools, and, especially, encouragement to help local partners carry the work forward.   She cites GHLI’s South African partner, the Foundation for Professional Development, of which several of the training course graduates have gone to leadership positions with the provincial departments of health.

When asked what she likes most about her work, she offered: “being involved with GHLI long enough to see many of the graduates of our programs move into ever-greater positions of responsibility and impact. I am inspired by each new group of men and women who enroll in our management training programs. I know the GHLI model of engagement works.”

March 30, 2016

Moving Research Beyond Journals

Leslie Curry, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Yale Global Health Leadership Institute

Well-intentioned and smart scientists devote their careers to generating new knowledge they hope will benefit the health and well-being of the population, and ultimately, save lives.  The discouraging reality is that only a small fraction (14%) of original research findings are published in scientific journals, and those findings take an average of 17 years to integrate into health care practice and policy. 

Scientists are growing impatient with the gap that currently exists between moving research into practice, and have begun to question whether traditional journals are the best way to accomplish this goal, especially in an era of rapid information dissemination through online and social media outlets. Long publication processes can render findings obsolete before they are even known, the narrow readership of journals consists mostly of like-minded scientists and the static, one-way medium publication format prevents constructive critique and debate that is essential for good science. 

What can be done to best reach appropriate and wider audiences with research findings in a timely manner? The good news is that, in addition to journals reinventing themselves, there are emerging alternatives. First,  the digital communication revolution provides extraordinary opportunities to reach large diverse audiences through dynamic formats such as social media, websites, blogs and online platforms like Tumblr and YouTube. 

In addition, the emerging new scientific disciplines of knowledge translation and implementation science focus on how to move science out of the lab and into the world. Finally, where advocacy has historically been forbidden among scientists, many are mobilizing to bring pressure for research to be more transparent and widely accessible. As a research community, it is our responsibility to leverage these three trends – digital communication, the field of implementation science, and advocacy -- to shrink the gap between research and practice and make our research matter. #Reachingwideraudiences.

February 16, 2016

Redefining the Concept of Health Leadership

Itumeleng Ntatamala, M.D., Community Service Medical Officer

Working in a lower income country’s public health sector is usually fraught with challenges, but this work can be equally fulfilling when a smile is shared…or a life is saved. It was in my first year as a medical intern at Mokopane Regional Hospital in rural South Africa that I found myself faced with either giving into an inefficient system or helping to transform it. Being selected to partake in the Advanced Health Management Programme (AHMP) and Yale University’s GHLI, was life changing as it jump-started an exciting journey of profound self-discovery and professional development.

The AHMP approach to health management is the concept of action research, which requires identifying challenges and then conducting research and continuous self-inquiry to solve those challenges. It was this approach that forced me to reflect on why I was concerned about health systems and how my own values tied into this work -- a far cry from my previous notion of leadership that oft times neglected the self and only focused on “getting the job done.” I undertook a collaborative hospital renovation project that saw our hospital’s pediatric ward -- which was originally designed for adult patients -- morph into a conducive healing environment for children with the support of colleagues, local business and interested community members. Colorful murals and paintings adorned previously dull walls, a kitchen was built to teach parents about healthy ways to prepare children’s food and a secure playground was erected to the children’s delight. The Limpopo Province recognized the transformation of the ward with the Limpopo Province Premiers’ Service Excellence Silver Award for “Innovation in the Public Service.”  

As I reflect on this past year, I started out as a frustrated young health professional in a small town and am now a confident professional with the skills and capacity to lead an award winning team to help improve hospital efficiency and patient care. I am grateful for this work and the group of people with which I get to work. Each day I have the opportunity to redefine my concept of health leadership.