Early career researchers, students and health professionals will be encouraged to think innovatively about leadership and play a more active role in redesigning and reforming the health system at this year’s Future Health Leaders Conference.
Founded by UNSW Alumni and Balnaves ILP Award recipient Dr Shannon Nott and featuring UNSW academic Dr Sally Nathan, the conference will bring together 500 early career researchers, health students and health professionals across a wide range of disciplines and feature Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Doherty. Delegates will address such health challenges as the incidence and burden of chronic disease, an aging population, obstacles in achieving health equity and the rising cost of health services.
Shannon Nott who graduated from Medicine in 2011 set up Future Health Leaders in his final year of medical school as part of collaboration with Health Workforce Australia to: “ensure that leadership capabilities were integrated into young health professionals learning and to get them to think critically about how they can make a difference in health.”
“A conference like Future Health Leaders is important as it allows for pollination of new ideas and gives upcoming and current health leaders an opportunity to network and form collaborations. It also aims to give upcoming leaders practical skills in leadership and business to ensure they become better advocates for their patients and communities,” he said.
Innovative and results-driven discussions that understand the importance of consumer and community engagement will be key to success at the conference according to Dr Sally Nathanfrom the School of Public Health and Community Medicine who is leading two workshops on advocacy.
“Good health leadership is a top priority for a lot of health organisations, but putting things into practice is challenging. People can’t just have ideas, they also need support and incentives to implement change when they return to the workforce,” she said.
“There are also a lot of obstacles to achieving good health leadership, one of the biggest being not having the community on board. I have seen a lot of health projects with an ‘us and them’ approach and it just doesn’t work. If health leaders don’t value the input and wisdom of consumers and the community about aspects of care that matter to them then health services won’t meet community needs, and may end up costing more to the tax payer in the long run.”
Dr Nott said he was excited about tackling the challenges to be addressed at the conference in not only health leadership but also Indigenous health, health informatics and the linkages that exist between trade and health.
“Conferences like this always leave you with an amazing buzz and re-energise you to be a better professional. But it won’t end there. We will be harnessing this passion through the development of think tanks and discussion groups that will leave the conference set to work on projects designed to create positive change in the health system.”