‘We want to lessen the gap by walking over the bridge together’: Pacific perspectives on Health Professions Education Leadership.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemerapeer-review


Health Professions Education (HPE) Leadership is a complex social phenomenon that requires relevant faculty development, however, current faculty development initiatives are often founded in western theoretical frameworks. This research aimed to understand Pacific HPE leadership to inform the design of relevant future faculty development in this setting and offer a different perspective to the international literature.
This interpretivist case study followed seven HPE leaders from one Pacific University over twelve months. Data were collected using Rich Pictures, reflective journals and semi-structured in-depth interviews. Data analysis followed Miles and Huberman’s approach and trustworthiness was enhanced through member checking, triangulation of results and researcher reflexivity.
Common themes identified revealed Pacific HPE leaders viewed leadership as ‘Riding a Rollercoaster’, describing leadership as overwhelming, stressful and challenging. Despite this they aimed to ‘Lesson the Gap’ by developing others to improve patient and community health. Their applied strategies encompassed ‘Walking over the Bridge Together’ through collaboration, care, commitment and communication. The values that underpinned their leadership, were influenced by their culture and context, and encompassed ‘Being a Coconut Tree’. This included being humble, empathetic, adaptable, valuing others and striving for excellence in their many leadership roles of educator, clinician, and researcher.
The findings of ‘Lessening the Gap’; ‘Walking over the Bridge Together’ and ‘Being a Coconut tree’ encompass Bush and Glover’s(1) concept of leadership as a triad of vision, influence and values. However, it does not address the challenge of ‘Riding a Rollercoaster’. To lessen the stress of HPE leadership in this context, realistic visions, sustainable partnerships and values of determination and hope are required, as advocated in the recent AMEE guide on adaptive leadership.(2) Moving forward, this research provides empirical evidence for many of the leadership qualities advocated in HPE leadership and offers guidance as we move towards designing contextually relevant HPE leadership development.

1. Bush T, Glover D. School leadership models: what do we know? School leadership & management. 2014;34(5):553-71.
2. McKimm J, Ramani S, Forrest K, Bishop J, Findyartini A, Mills C, et al. Adaptive leadership during challenging times: Effective strategies for health professions educators: AMEE Guide No. 148. Medical Teacher. 2022:1-11.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2023
EventAustralia and New Zealand Association of Health Professions Educators - ANZAHPE 2023: Turning Tides, Navigating the Opportunities - Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 26 Jun 202329 Jun 2023
Conference number: 50


ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Association of Health Professions Educators - ANZAHPE 2023
Abbreviated titleANZAHPE 2023
Internet address


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