Saturday, July 26, 2008

Training of Trainers Conference



The first HDI Training-of-Trainers conference has just concluded with resounding success. Two dozen volunteer health care managers, consultants, physicians, nurses and other supporters met for three days at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center in Holland, Michigan to learn about the opportunities for making a difference with HDI. Medical missionaries from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe shared their stories to illustrate the needs for health care management training. As the President of HDI, it was my honor to introduce the Effective Health Care Management workshop materials and coordinate practice training exercises to give each participant some familiarity with the role of an HDI trainer. I also presented perspectives on how to develop sustainable health care services in poor countries, emphasizing the critical role HDI can play to bring health care programs where they can have the greatest impact.

Participants came from nine states and three other countries, with Kenyan physician, Dr. Thomas Odeny, winning the award for coming the greatest distance. Each person was challenged to discern the roles they can best fill with HDI as trainers, mentors, and those who can make introductions to ministries and supporters. We also shared ideas for refining and expanding the training materials to increase their value for hospitals and clinic in the two-thirds world.

I came away with a deep sense of gratitude for this calling, for the commitment of talented volunteers and for the historical foundations of HDI under Dr. Rufi Macagba. But my most poignant observation was the overwhelming magnitude of the need for health care management training in developing countries and the impact HDI can achieve by training and mentoring targeted organizations to become models of business and clinical excellence. I was also struck that HDI appears to be the ONLY organization equipped to meet the long-recognized need for health care management training in developing countries. We have been given stewardship of a sacred - and huge - calling.

This training-of-trainers conference was the first for HDI, but it will not be the last. There are already about a dozen people who have expressed interest in being trained that could not attend this time. We'll use feedback from this experience to plan the next one, and it will need to be scheduled soon, based on the growing list of invitations.

We are planning the next workshop to be presented in Soddo, Ethiopia, October 20-23, and have just received an invitation to Uganda the following week. November will find me in Beijing, China, leading 25 TB hospital managers through the workshop as well as training five trainers from South Africa and India. We're waiting for a response to our proposal to conduct the workshop in Guatemala in December, and tentatively making plans for trips to India and Kazakhstan in 2009. We are receiving about 2-3 inquiries per month for HDI training assistance.

I want to thank all who participated in the HDI conference, including those who worked behind the scenes. The three HDI interns and my Executive Assistant, Beth Vander Goot, did an excellent job managing hundreds of details. Scott and Deb Witteveen helped with the picnic and my wife, Marybeth, and HDI Board members pitched in with transportation services. I am grateful to God for this ministry. It is fulfilling at the highest level, and the best is yet to come.