2021 Award for Sustainability in Healthcare Management Education and Practice

The idea behind Kyosei is that all people, regardless of race, religion, or culture, should be harmoniously working and living together for the common good. Canon Solutions America is committed to that ideal and actively seeks out similar organizations.

Well, look no further than The University of Washington Master of Health Administration Program, which received the 2021 Award for Sustainability in Healthcare Management Education and Practice. Along with Canon Solutions America, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) recognizes educational institutions that stand out in supporting the advancement of sustainability goals.

“The University of Washington MHA Program incorporates the noble ideals of sustainability, as acknowledged through the generous support of Canon Solutions America,” says Anthony Stanowski, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of CAHME. “This award recognizes that the UW MHA’s program is a leader in advancing the quality of healthcare management education.”

“This award is an incredible honor and recognition of the values and practices that the UW, our School of Public Health, and our MHA Program have incorporated around sustainability,” says Sarah Cave, Sr. Director of the UW Programs in Health Management and Informatics. Cave noted that the inspiration to apply for the award came from two UW MHA students, Kaitlin Schoewe and Zayna Salveter, who—motivated in part by their classroom experiences—formed a Planetary Health Committee of the MHA Student Association. The aim of the Committee is to facilitate advocacy and action by fellow students and MHA Programs across the country.

The students started the Planetary Health Committee as a way to engage faculty and classmates in more conversations about the relationship between human health and the environment. Schoewe states, “As students we wanted to be able to use our voices and act as ambassadors within the healthcare space for sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. This led to an even larger coalition of health administration students joining together to create and demand real, lasting change in health administration education across the country.” 

The hope is that the students have created something that will continue to push professors at the University of Washington and beyond to produce climate-conscious leaders of healthcare organizations. According to Salveter, “We realized that the healthcare field’s ‘do no harm’ policy means the industry needs to lead the way in sustainable operations, requiring administrators to not only show up to the conversations, but lead them.” So the program isn’t going away.

The United States is the leading contributor to the world’s healthcare carbon emissions (27%), according to the “Health Care’s Climate Footprint” report from Arup and Health Care Without Harm. In comparison, China accounts for 17%. Salveter and Schoewe believe that the industry has not broadly adopted practices to reduce it. In turn, they have reached out to more than 100 other MHA programs throughout the country to create the National Health Administration Climate Collaboration.

The challenge going forward, according to Schoewe, is demonstrating that climate health is a public health crisis. “Because it’s something we haven’t really talked about in our classes, there wasn’t a lot of knowledge surrounding the role the environment plays in health outcomes. When we launched the Planetary Health Committee, we had to narrow our scope and grasp the best way to begin these conversations.”

With the support of the faculty they were remarkably successful in getting people to listen. And CAHME and Canon Solutions America were thrilled to recognize their hard work. “It is an honor to recognize The University of Washington MHA Program for its achievements that support sustainability best practices through education and training. We are very eager to see what the future of the Planetary Health Committee will bring,” says Peter P. Kowalczuk, president, Canon Solutions America, Inc.

The only question that remains is what the next chapter of the Planetary Health Committee looks like. Salveter and Schoewe believe that it is much more than a committee and should be incorporated into the program overall. “Without a healthy planet, our populations can never reach their optimal health. The PHC has an opportunity to support our curriculum to include climate-conscious material in addition to being a partner on campus with other environmentally driven organizations,” says Salveter. And Schoewe adds, “We believe, as health administrators, that we have an obligation to build systematic change, so we see PHC members using their voices to lobby for climate and health at the state and federal level.” And that’s an award-winning attitude.