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History of SHAPE.

The Beginning

SHAPE was originally conceived in 1985 when grant funding was made available from the Kellogg Foundation. The driving force for the creation of SHAPE was the perceived need for emerging programs in health service management to have a forum for the sharing of ideas to foster quality in educational offerings.

Originally, SHAPE stood for the "Secretariat in Health Administration Programs in Education." The original organisational structure was modelled on the American University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) organisation and involved an Executive Director who was supported by a Board of Directors.

The original model of operations was not financially viable beyond the life of the grant. Consequently, in 1991 the organisation changed from being a secretariat to a society. The structure and mission of SHAPE has remained largely unchanged.

The Need

When SHAPE was formed, individual university health service management programs tended to be taught by a small number of academics because the market for the offering was niche or it was a new program offering by the university. This has meant that the the opportunity for those teaching health services management to engage with others teaching in the area was limited. Nothing much has changed since that time.

SHAPE has provided academics involved in teaching health services management with the opportunity to network, collaborate and support each other during times of changes.


SHAPE continues to provide an effective vehicle for the exchange of ideas about innovation in education methods applied to the delivery of health service management courses and professional development of health services managers.

Now and Into the Future

Originally SHAPE was centred around supporting health services management education in Australia and New Zealand. Since its conception, many things have changed in the provision of health services management education. For example:

  • The format of delivery of education has evolved from being distance learning to face-face and now to blended online and face-face or just on-line

  • Many programs now have opportunities for higher degree research (doctoral) students

  • The opportunity for students from other countries to undertake health services management education has increased

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has placed many universities under threat of closure, while at the same time resulting in significant changes in health service management through the greater use of digital health technologies. Consequently, the need and opportunity for SHAPE to support academics and students has grown.


Despite the many challenges facing the health service management education community, the opportunities for SHAPE to help foster high quality services management education are now greater than ever.

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