I recently delivered a presentation entitled "Healthcare Design: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?" at the monthly chapter meeting of the Columbus, Ohio branch of the American Institute of Architects. One significant challenge, of course, was to present a topic that large in scope in the allotted time while providing enough new info to be relevant to old pros and basic enough to appeal to those new to the healthcare design field.

In speaking with the event arrangers, they mentioned that they were making a concerted effort to draw more young architects into these meetings and, indeed, into the healthcare design industry in general. While there were a handful of younger architects at the meeting, the attendees definitely skewed toward the older end of the spectrum.

On my two-hour-plus drive back to Cleveland after the meeting, alone with my thoughts, I wondered if this was an issue in every market. While there are absolutely some great academic programs out there churning out future healthcare designers — Clemson, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M to name just a few — I wonder if these younger architects are going to fill out the workforce as we will need them to moving forward. It stands to reason that just as the Baby Boom generation is going to create a need for more doctors and nurses, it will also create a need for more healthcare designers (at least we can hope that to be true). 

We certainly have been preaching about designing healthcare facilities moving forward to attract and retain staff; are we taking similar steps to maintain the young, passionate designers who have decided to join the healthcare design community? I hope to look more into the next generation of healthcare designers in the coming weeks and months; I invite you to drop me a line with your thoughts on the matter or to post comments below.