Why Launch a Leadership Fellows Program?

By Iliana White, Program Manager, School-Based Health Alliance

LFP Webpage ImageJust last week, we announced the first cohort for our Leadership Fellows Program. We selected ten individuals this inaugural group of fellows, and they have a diverse background. The group includes nurse practitioners, a physician, a mental health provider, and a staff member from our state affiliate in Oregon. They also vary in their level of experience in the school-based health care field, ranging from one year to 14. However, the one thing they all have in common is a passion for the school-based health care model and a desire to contribute to the future of the school-based health care movement.

But why launch the Leadership Fellows Program? Some of you may remember our opening plenary at the 2012 National School-Based Health Care Convention, when Dr. James Johnson discussed demographic shifts revealed in the 2000-2010 U.S. Census. (If you missed it, you can watch the plenary on our website.) One of the many trends Dr. Johnson discussed was what he called “the Silver Tsunami.” A large portion of the U.S. population is approaching retirement, which could lead to a brain drain in many industries and organizations. The school-based health care movement began more than 30 years ago; many of our current thought leaders are still in the field today, or have recently retired. We are certainly not immune to this “brain drain” effect, which will result in the loss of many key experts who are the most knowledgeable about the unique aspects of providing high-quality, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive health care in schools.

That’s why we are so excited about our Leadership Fellows Program. This program will foster and mentor a new network of emerging leaders who will take responsibility for growing and sustaining the school-based health care field. Our initial cohort will receive training and support to build their knowledge about school-based health care, and develop their general leadership skills. We will expand on the program with a second cohort in 2016, and we hope to keep the program going so our field remains strong for the next 30 years, and beyond.

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