Healthcare Management

By Kieran Walshe; Judith Smith | Go to book overview

1: Introduction: the current and
future challenges of healthcare
management

Kieran Walshe and Judith Smith


Introduction

The purpose of this book is to support the learning and development of practising managers in healthcare organisations and health systems, and those undertaking postgraduate study on programmes concerned with health policy, health management and related areas. Increasingly those two groups overlap – more and more managers undertake a masters degree as part of their intellectual and career development, and we strongly believe in the power of the interaction between academic and experiential learning that this brings. No one learns to be a manager in a classroom, or from a book. Management is learnt by doing, by experiencing the challenges and opportunities of leadership (Mintzberg 2004). But the best and most successful managers are reflective practitioners – profoundly aware of their own behaviours, attitudes and actions and their impact on others and on the organisation, and able to analyse and critically review their own practice and set it in a wider context, framed by appropriate theories, models and concepts (Peck 2004). The future leaders of our healthcare systems need to be able to integrate theory and practice, and to have the adaptability and flexibility that comes from really understanding the nature of management and leadership.

This chapter sets the context for the book, by first describing the challenges of the political and social environment in which healthcare systems and organisations exist, and how that environment is changing. It then describes some of the particular challenges of those organisations – some of the characteristics and dynamics which make healthcare organisations both so interesting and so difficult to lead. Then the chapter sets out the structure of the rest of the book and explains how we anticipate that it might be used, both in support of formal programmes of study and by managers who simply want to develop and expand their own understanding and awareness.

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