Barriers to career progression for BAME healthcare workers

The roundtable explored the professional development BAME healthcare workers want

Last week, the winners of the 2021 National BAME Health & Care Awards, (BAME HCAs) attended the first session in the exclusive Lunch, Learn, and Leadership Development Roundtable Series.

The BAME HCAs are an annual occasion that celebrates the achievements of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) professionals in the NHS and their work serving diverse communities.

The roundtable, which included BAME HCA Founder Wendy Olayiwola and DiversityQ’s Editor Cheryl Cole, saw the 2021 winners, who are all workers in the UK healthcare sector, passionately discussing the need for more professional development and why healthcare needs to shift to social impact over cost-saving.

The roundtable also featured two prominent guest speakers in the diversity and inclusion and healthcare education areas, who discussed higher education opportunities and the purpose of training.

While a number of winners were interested in courses to self-develop, others thought the Government should take a stand on funding these initiatives for BAME workers. Some were concerned that the qualifications they would get wouldn’t serve their desire for social impact.

Leadership development – what BAME healthcare workers want

One winner said he was interested in undertaking an MBA to achieve a board-level position in the NHS, which he believes is the way to advance diversity in the institution.

Another said he was concerned that many healthcare professionals come out with an MBA only to focus on cost management rather than “compassion and inclusivity.”

One winner suggested that the NHS and the Government should invest in leadership training for ethnic minority healthcare professionals, who could re-energise the exhausted workforce. They were adamant that BAME workers shouldn’t shoulder the financial burden of study.

They said the BAME HCAs could be a good vehicle for a grant, with funds being given to winners to help them develop as professionals. As BAME healthcare workers receive less leadership development support in the workplace than white workers, they thought this made targeted development grants essential.

Guest speaker and diversity and inclusion consultant, Fiona Daniel, CEO and Founder of FD21, said the problem wasn’t a lack of leadership development programmes in the NHS, but that they exclude ethnic minorities.

She sees exclusion in “the way talent is distinguished and how performance is rated” and believes that specific programmes for BAME professionals won’t work and that they need to be included in existing programmes to have a seat at the table.

The other guest speaker Nora Colton, Director of the Global Business School for Health (GBSH) at UCL explained the school was created to help move the dial from finance and accounting to a purpose-driven approach in healthcare education, with a focus on people.

“We need to look at the healthcare workforce as an investment and not a cost,” she said.

Changing healthcare needs – a space for BAME talent?

The direction the school is taking, says Colton, is part of a change sweeping healthcare business schools in favour of social impact which is fuelled by the impact of the pandemic on less advantaged communities.

Colton then explained the rising demands healthcare is facing, suggesting that upskilling the BAME talent pool in the sector could be the solution.

She said that long-term issues including an ageing population and chronic illnesses are the causes, while COVID-19 has “brought these issues into focus.” Because of this, she believes that healthcare needs to be reimagined “in serious ways” including creating new forms of leadership.

She said “value-based healthcare” and “healthcare management leadership” will be crucial. On this note, she steered the conversation to the courses available at the Global Business School for Health.

She said the school follows the UN Sustainable Development of good health and wellbeing for all. Consequently, the courses take a global outlook on healthcare and focus on working together with other health systems beyond the NHS. The teaching on these courses also includes staff from a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives.

“For people who are in the NHS, it’s an opportunity to be around different people and think about challenges in other systems and other health approaches we can learn from via peers from other places.”

The programmes available at the Global Business School for Health

The school has a number of MSc programmes available including global healthcare management. For this course, the school spoke to healthcare employers to see what they wanted from healthcare workers in terms of skills.

These were implemented into the programme and include modules on finances of healthcare, diversity and inclusion focused HR management, health systems education, and leadership management.

Students also have the flexibility of study and can take between three to five years to complete the programme, says Colton. At the end of the course, they work on a final project which involves developing a healthcare improvement with the teams chosen via psychometric testing to encourage diversity.

There are also courses on digital health and entrepreneurship, which uses WHO guidelines for digital health and help students develop entrepreneurial skills, and biotech and pharmaceutical management, which covers capital and equity markets for healthcare, supply chain management, and more.

Colton explained that the MBA is more general and is good for individuals looking to accelerate their careers. The course is taught by experts in health and business, with students working together to solve a health challenge in a lower-middle-income country and involves support from high-level c-suite executives as well as UCL academics.

She said there are a number of scholarships available for these programmes, and invites winners to contact her to find out more.

To find out more about the BAME HCAs, click here. For further information about the UCL Global Business School for Health, click here.
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