In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Anthony J. Haas is president of the American College of Healthcare Architects and a senior principal at WHR Architects (Houston). Here, he shares his thoughts on nurturing the next generation of healthcare architects, international partnerships, and project time management.

1. Young talent

We used to say that we wanted to “grow our replacements” and there is still a certain truth to that. But what we see now is that by opening the door for young talent and giving them responsibility and support, the growing goes both ways. The new generation of healthcare architects has much to teach those of us who have been practicing for years. It’s not just their technological edge; they bring us fresh perspectives, new ways of collaborating, and enviable energy.

2. Taking time

Healthcare architecture is a demanding profession. Projects, especially the smaller ones, want to go fast. We want to keep our clients happy. But sometimes the best thing we can do is to slow down and make sure we’re doing things right. If we take time to listen, to set realistic expectations, and find the best solutions, we will be far more valuable to our clients and, in the end, to the patients and staff who use the facilities we design.

3. International healthcare practice

Several years ago I engaged with a Danish team on a study mission in the U.S. as they prepared for the planned renewal and expansion of their state healthcare system. Since then our firm has opened an office in Copenhagen and we have been involved with international design competitions for new hospitals in the country. While it’s exciting to be helping develop a new international healthcare model and sharing ideas with our partners, identifying the right partners in this new territory can be a challenge. Just as at home, it’s critical to find the right balance of chemistry, shared values, knowledge, and, the often unspoken, politics.

4. Value in certification

Given my involvement in the American College of Healthcare Architects, I think a lot about the value that ACHA certification brings to our members and how we can demonstrate that value to our clients, regulatory agencies, and healthcare related associations. Beyond challenging our members to achieve their “personal best” in terms of healthcare design knowledge, rigorous certification sets a meaningful standard for those who hire us. A certified architect has committed the time and effort to understand industry issues, trends, and best practices.

5. Partnering on education

Meaningful certification has its corollary in education. The challenge for healthcare architects is to determine where to invest their educational time and resources. We need to set the agenda for value and make sure high-level, high-quality education is available—courses that will help to improve standards, quality, and performance. No single organization can do it all. ACHA is partnering with other professional societies and healthcare programs to provide access to top-notch education.

Anthony J. Haas

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