The Emerging Health Care Leaders (EHCL) training programme

The EHCL initiative of NRP 74: Competence Building for Future Health Care Leaders.

An important goal of NRP 74 was to build a strong Swiss research community in the field of health services research. Researchers were also to be empowered to navigate today's health care system, which is geared towards integration and coordination, and to enter into a fruitful dialogue with the various actors in the health care system.

Launch of an innovative training programme for young researchers

To this end, the "Emerging Health Care Leaders" (EHCL) training programme for young researchers from NRP 74 was launched in 2018. It had a budget of about one million Swiss francs and was led by Prof. Milo Puhan, President of the NRP 74 Steering Committee, together with Rolf Heusser, MD, of the University of Zurich. The initiative was based on the conviction that a future-oriented health care system requires a new generation of leaders who are able to engage in dialogue with the key players in practice, politics and society and to initiate sustainable health policy decisions.

Implementation of more than 40 "skills trainings"

The community building process was based on the principle of building trust. Between 2018 and 2023, more than 40 "skills trainings" took place, each of which was accompanied by social events. The courses contained many practical elements and were geared to the needs of the young researchers themselves. The training activities covered the following areas of competence: Leadership skills, knowledge transfer skills, soft skills and professional skills. The training programme was complemented by a coaching offer.

High demand from the target group...

In total 57 young researchers from diverse academic backgrounds participated in the EHCL programme. The majority of them were doctoral students from all over Switzerland (65% PhDs, 14% postdocs, 21% other researchers), and the proportion of women was 72%. Participation was voluntary for the young researchers of the NRP 74 projects and the programme activities were complementary to the existing academic doctoral programmes.

EHCL Retreat at Isola di Brissago, November 2022 © NFP 74

...and great satisfaction of the participants

The skills training was highly appreciated by the participants. In the interim evaluation at the end of 2020, 82% of the "EHCL Scholars" stated that they had gained new skills and competences through the programme that were not covered by the usual doctoral programmes. The EHCL programme had allowed them to expand their professional network and enter a community where they met like-minded "peers" with similar life and professional situations. Friendships were built and joint activities were developed by EHCL members outside the EHCL programme. This created a vibrant community, driven by the enthusiasm and great intrinsic motivation of the participants.

Successful anchoring of the sustainable model

Thanks to the initiative "Smarter Health Care - Future Health Services Research Switzerland" initiative, the successful EHLC programme will be continued under the umbrella of the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+). The existing community is to be further strengthened and opened up to future leaders from research, politics, society and practice.