Monday, May 19, 2008

China: a moving experience

I am recovering from two weeks of intensive teaching in China. The jet lag will subside in due time, but the memories, stories, reflections and insights will stay with me. Dr. Rufi Macagba and I presented the Effective Hospital Management Workshop to about 145 hospital managers in two settings. The first week, we had five engaging days with rural hospital managers from as far away as Xinjiang Province, 3,000 miles west. We also had a few Beijing-based leaders who are likely to become mentors to rural hospitals. They responded warmly to the interactive teaching methods we introduced as well as to the content about management tasks and skills that are essential for improving hospital services. Our host was the Loving Heart Hospital Management Committee of the China Rural Health Association, so we had opportunities to integrate principles of integrity and compassion along with our management philosophy.

The second week turned out a little differently than we had planned. We thought we were going to go to Dengfeng Hospital in Henan Province to teach the management teams from ten rural hospitals in the region. Instead, our venue was changed to Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province. The government officials got word of our plans and decided to expand the audience to include several top managers from urban hospitals as well. We entered the room to find 100 people applauding us, ready to learn. The entire four-day workshop was videoed for future distribution, so HDI will have a continuously growing influence with support by the Chinese Ministry of Health.

We clearly felt the earthquake during a break on the first afternoon of the Zhengzhou conference. We were 600 miles from the epicenter, but the earth moved noticeably for 10 minutes as we evacuated the building. Some of the participants were called away to join the rescue teams as the magnitude of the tragedy unfolded, but we still had about 70 participants on the last day.

Rufi's engaging style, his Asian charm, and his personal stories of Lorma Hospital in the Philippines won the day. He has lived the content of this workshop and has developed simple methods for sharing his life's lessons in ways that stick with audiences. I added my own stories from around the globe and offered a contemporary view of basic management principles. I also came to appreciate how future faculty members can enrich the workshop material with their own stories and build on the interactive exercises that allow participants to personalize their learning experience.

This was an experience of several firsts. It was the first time in twelve years of sharing this material that Rufi has shared the podium with another trainer. It was the first time to work with audiences larger than 25. We had to improvise to keep people engaged in the exercises, but we figured it out with as many as 100 people in the room. It was the first time to be videoed. It was also the first time to present in China. But it won't be the last.

HDI has accepted an invitation by the International Hospital Federation and Eli Lilly to return to Beijing in November, 2008 to present this workshop for TB Hospital Managers. We'll also be training trainers from 4-5 other continents so they can take this workshop back to their own countries and expand the impact it can have. The relationships that are forming may produce some other surprises for us as well. For now, we'll just go with the flow.

I'm grateful to the many supporters of HDI and to those who stayed in touch with me through this trip. The earthquake was a vivid reminder of the brevity of life and the connectedness we each have to each other around the globe. I'm glad we have an opportunity to serve in ways that can impact millions.