For some Sciana members, having space to sit and think outside of their day-to-day work has been valuable

For some Sciana members, having space to sit and think outside of their day-to-day work has been valuable

A space to think: reflections on the value of being part of the Sciana Network

Sciana members from 2017 and 2018 reflect on the value of time and considering challenges in different environments

Time is often a luxury for members of the Sciana Network. As high-calibre, senior leaders in health and health care policy and innovation, their responsibilities mean they have very little spare time, with their calendars being booked up weeks and months in advance.

Being part of the Sciana Network enables leaders in health care to have dedicated time away from their day-to-day work and, importantly, space to really think and to reflect on their current and future challenges. Each cohort takes part in four four-day gatherings over two years – a unique opportunity to look at the bigger picture and engage with peers who may be tackling similar issues.

Annabel Seebohm, secretary-general of the Standing Committee of European Doctors, and a 2018 Sciana cohort member, said, “In our day-to-day jobs, we don’t have the opportunity to have a few days off to think about problems in an in-depth way with a variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of knowledge.

“Having that time and space is a very rare find – and was a great opportunity for all of us.”

Spending time thinking and discussing issues and challenges in the health and care arena with peers, but without the constraints of typical daily life, is something Richard Lee, chief operating officer of St John Ambulance and a 2018 Sciana cohort member, really valued. He said, “The conversations I had were much better quality than the conversations you have at work – because of the lack of time constraints that you have in a normal working day. And this is one of the things I’m trying to take away from it in my work life.”

The impact of having this time and space can be tangible, with members reflecting on how it has changed the way they do things. Lee said, “It gives you time to consider and encourages you as a leader to make time for good decisions; ones that are inclusive and well thought through. In operational roles, it’s far too easy to get sucked into the clamour for instant decision-making. Having time built in to really think about things is vital.”

Seebohm also reflected on how the experience impacts her work now. She said, “What affected me the most was that it changed the way I view health care, and how you go about achieving the best quality health and health care. I learned more about how you need to look at the whole environment and community of people – it is far broader than before.

“I try to use this in my work now, particularly in thinking about public health and disease prevention.”

Having this space to think can change perspectives too. Christina Brunnschweiler, CEO of Spitex Zurich Limmat (SZL) AG and a 2017 Sciana cohort member, said, “Sciana allowed me the space to really think about particular areas. One of those areas was patient-centred care. I had always focused on this, but the Sciana experience helped me to get that really clear and has led me to put even more emphasis on it.”

Lutz Hager, executive director at IKK Südwest and a 2018 cohort member, also explained how the Sciana experience helped him to re-focus on some important big-picture themes. He said, “Sciana has had a lasting effect on me. We discussed the impact of health care on climate change, and the impact of migration on health care in different countries – these are aspects that I hadn’t really focused on before, and that will clearly play an important role in the future.”

Sciana: The Health Leaders Network is a new initiative bringing together outstanding leaders in health and health care policy and innovation across Europe. The Sciana network is supported by a partnership between The Health Foundation, Careum Stiftung, and the Robert Bosch Stiftung in collaboration with Salzburg Global Seminar.