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Ragnheiður Haraldsdóttir, Deputy Permanent Secretary,
Ministry of Health, Iceland

Please take a few minutes to review the Questions and Answers below and feel free to contact the IMHL Office at (1) 514 398-8811.

Why should you consider an educational program in management and leadership?

Because management is a difficult and confusing activity, that requires thoughtful reflection. This is not easy to do while on the job. Short courses can help, but an extensive program with experienced colleagues from around the world can make a profound difference. Management is a practice; managers learn in communities of practice. That is what the IMHL is all about.

Do you have to leave your job to get such an education?

No! Indeed leaving your job would deny you the greatest opportunity of such an education: to go back and forth between the learning in the classroom and the practice on the job. That way experience can be brought into the classroom for deeper reflection, and the impact of that learning can be pursued on the job for better practice. The IMHL meets five times over 15 months, each for a 12-day period. Other activities in the program blend into the work context.

Why not do an MBA or an MHA?

The MBA is mostly B, not A — more about the business functions than about administrative management. Health care is not a business (even if some of it is delivered by businesses). The MHA is certainly about health care, but often for people with little or no managerial experience. Managers cannot be created in a classroom. But wonderful things can happen when the experience of managers is used to build a learning community of practitioners in the classroom. The IMHL asks the participating managers to bring into the classroom pressing issues of health care. There, participants help one another work through these issues. Put differently, the IMHL is designed as an ongoing forum in which the major concerns of health care worldwide are addressed and advanced by thoughtful people from around the world.

What will your organization and your community get out of this?

The IMHL is not for individuals as such; it is for managers in context, sent and sponsored by their organizations or communities (sometimes funded by foundations or public institutions). In this way, we seek to marry management development with organization development and make health care managers and institutions more effective. Considerable attention is given in the IMHL to what we call "impact"—carrying the learning into the organization or community by having the learners teach others as well as change practices. We especially encourage the sending of teams of managers to the IMHL.  Such teams bring a key issue from their organization or community, to be addressed in the program.  (Examples of issues include: integrating community care with hospital care; addressing the complexities of nursing in today's world; redressing the balance between public and private healthcare in a country; enhancing the role of prevention in healthcare.)

Isn't this program going to be a great deal of work?

Management already entails a great deal of work. The intention of the IMHL is not to pile it on, but to encourage the participants to work smarter. Our motto is: use work, don't make work. Of course, there has to be some added work in any program. But ten years of experience in our two sister programs with similar designs (for business and for the voluntary sector) have taught us that these intentions work. It is, in fact, quite remarkable how effective this can be with busy but enthusiastic managers.

Why do this at McGill University, in Canada?

Canada is a special place and McGill is a special university. Canadians have been at the forefront of many innovations in health care. Canada is also a thoughtful, low key place to step back comfortably and reflect on big issues. Having one of the most public health care systems in the world so close to one of the most private health care systems (in our neighbouring country) offers wonderful opportunities for comparison. As for McGill, it has one of the most respected medicine schools in the world, and a management school that is a world leader in innovative management education and development.

What can you do about the cost?

We want to work with the kinds of people from around the world whose background and abilities suggest they belong in such a program. Our intention is to create the most interesting ongoing forum anywhere in the world for addressing the major issues of health care. While many participants will be supported by their organizations or national institutions, others may wish to approach foundations and international agencies, as well as local donors. We shall be pleased to support these efforts in any way we can. We also have a limited number of partial scholarships available.  Please contact us for more information at info [dot] imhl [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

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