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On Saturday February 28th, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) partnered with ReThink Health to host their first ever student competition. Designed to highlight public sector challenges, the graduate-level competition showcased the ReThink Health Model as a tool to help public administrators explore the complicated range of trade-offs required to meet diverse stakeholder interests.

Two-hundred nominated students from the 300 NASPAA member schools participated in the day-long challenge where teams were tasked to use the Model to develop and present policy solutions based on a given scenario, which asked them to create a locally-led “bottom up” reform to the Affordable Care Act. Thinking through the complexities of the health system is difficult, and as a result, new initiatives tend to be short-sited, fragmented, and unable to alter long-term trends. The Model helps bring greater foresight, evidence, and creativity to groups who are working to establish a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable health system. It allows for users to navigate the compromises that occur when pursuing systemic change, such as balancing the supply and demand for scarce resources and managing the tensions between short-term and long-term results.

Having participated on the national jury, along with such distinguished leaders as Sherry Glied, dean of Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, and David Andersen, professor at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at SUNY Albany, I saw first-hand just how much creativity, teamwork, and sheer intelligence is emerging among America’s future policy leaders. It was a thrill to hear the insights from each regional winner about where the real leverage may lie in shaping sound health policy. These teams displayed a mix of curiosity, skill, and moral clarity that bodes well for effective action on this critical national challenge.

ReThink Health is committed to supporting the next generation of leaders by working with colleges and universities to bring system thinking and new approaches to students in public health, public policy, medicine, business, and other fields. The Model is already being used by a rapidly growing number of academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive education levels. This alliance with NASPAA is important because it recognizes that ReThink Health is poised to create a new generation of policy leaders who better understand how the health system works and who will not be content with quick fixes. They will resist partial reforms that are doomed to rebound and instead invest in sound strategies that will steer our health system in new, more sustainable directions.  True progress in health policy relies on leaders who are equipped to rethink their own roles as change agents, as each team who competed in this challenge had to do in order to succeed.  This partnership promises to be a profound step toward a healthier, more prosperous future.

You can find more about the competition in our press release.

Bobby Milstein is a director at ReThink Health. 

The views and opinions expressed via this blog are those of the original authors only, and are not necessarily representative of those held by ReThink Health staff, Rippel Foundation staff, or other contributors to this site.

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