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Spring Leadership Assembly focuses on VUMC’s greatest asset — its people

May. 3, 2018, 4:53 PM

The United Voices of Vanderbilt choir performs at Wednesday’s Clinical Enterprise Leadership Assembly. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Its people are Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s greatest asset, Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, reminded those in attendance at the May 2018 Leadership Assembly.

During their quarterly presentations, Balser and C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer, focused on initiatives that are investing in the Medical Center’s people and its unique and collaborative culture.

Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, discusses the Medical Center’s ‘secret sauce’ — its people. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Balser also spoke about how the Community Survey, which is currently underway through May 15, presents the opportunity each year to gather important feedback and valuable insights into organizational strengths and leadership performance. These metrics in turn help guide initiatives that focus on increasing workplace satisfaction.

Guest speaker and employee engagement expert, Vicki Hess, RN, gave those in attendance information on strategies to weave engagement throughout current projects and create personalized connections to build trust and drive results.

“We are here today to talk about our ‘secret sauce,’ our people,” Balser said. “We all know that there is something very special about our people.”

Balser said a recent feedback survey helped define the qualities members of the Medical Center community value in each other. They include: caring, civility/emotional intelligence, integrity, creativity, passion, a sense of ownership and a sense of humor.

Balser emphasized that three of the Medical Center’s Strategic Directions emphasize these qualities: make diversity and inclusion intentional; design for patients and families; and discover, learn and share.

“The key word that emphasizes these attributes in our strategic priority of making diversity and inclusion intentional is the word ‘inclusion,’” he said.

“You can have a diverse workforce but not have it be inclusive. We don’t gain the value we need unless we are really, truly inclusive. If everybody isn’t participating in decision making, in recruiting, in promotion, in everything — if everybody is not a part of these vital activities — then we are leaving people behind.”

The Medical Center’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, in collaboration with Human Resources, has already launched unconscious bias training for managers as part of current efforts, and similar training programs will be available for all employees in the coming year.

Unconscious bias training was the focus of the breakout session at February’s Leadership Assembly. This experience was followed by teams engaged in more intensive sessions in four pediatric clinics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. After training, patient satisfaction scores in these clinics showed strong increases.

Balser reminded those in attendance that their actions as leaders amplify and set the tone for the Medical Center’s 22,000-plus workforce to follow.

“We have to be self-critical of our leadership performance,” Balser said. “The VUMC Culture Survey is one way to measure employee engagement. A manager and mentor program has been established to help leaders overseeing workgroups that scored in the third tier for employee engagement. We’re going to support all of our managers in moving these groups to tier 2 and eventually to tier 1. We can’t achieve our dreams if we don’t do this.”

Providing an update on eStar, Balser said there significant efforts are focused on resolving lingering issues. “There are some things that are working much better. For example, all of our patients now get one bill. Our patients really like getting a single bill so we’re getting kudos for this. Labs are coming back to our clinicians in half the time they were before eStar arrived,” Balser said. “On the other hand, workflows are still not all corrected, and many people will benefit from additional training. We’re going to get all this resolved and we’re not going to stop until we do.”

To support our people with this new installation, and because eStar will constantly have updates and advancements, there are plans to provide additional and sustainable training opportunities to ensure VUMC gains continuous benefit from its eStar implementation.

A taskforce for clinician wellness will soon complete its recommendations on factors causing stress as well as pragmatic steps to improve working conditions at VUMC. Among these, a source of stress for many employees is the challenge associated with available childcare in Nashville. The Medical Center is looking to extended hours to better meet the needs of on-call clinicians and is exploring new offerings, such as flexible, part-time and back-up care.

“One of the important things we need is more access to high-quality childcare. This is something we have heard over and over again from folks and we’re on it,” Balser said.

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, reviewed goals for retention, patient experience and education. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Balser closed his remarks by previewing the new digital-first storytelling campaign, themed Defining Personalized Care, which showcases the Medical Center’s people — their compassion and expertise.

Pinson began his remarks by showing a short video featuring Troy Driver, a supervisor from Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital Nutrition Services. In the video Driver describes the attributes that result in success with his team.

(Go here to see videos from the campaign)

Referring to Driver’s comments in the video, Pinson said, “Here at Vanderbilt we have different ingredients that make us wonderful — and that’s true in terms of roles, diversity and perspectives. It’s our different and combined contributions that make us achieve the great outcomes that we get.”

Pinson referred to some recent results including solid year-to-date employee retention metrics, notably a 3 percent improvement in nursing retention over last year, and a spring 2018 “A” safety grade for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital from The Leapfrog Group.

In terms of growth, Pinson said that with the opening of the Nolensville Walk-In Clinic on Monday, VUMC now has seven walk-in clinics in Davidson and Williamson Counties, with five more planned in the near future.

Pinson said the Medical Center at the end of the third quarter meets nine of 19 Pillar Goal metrics that can be measured at this time, as well as the all-organizational goals for all the workforce, namely retention, patient experience and academic performance.

“Please treat patients and families exactly the way you want to be treated or that you want your family to be treated,” Pinson reminded the audience.

He urged staff to be ready for an upcoming and unannounced visit from The Joint Commission’s reviewers.

“If you are not ready, I would ask you to get ready,” Pinson said, directing attendees with questions and concerns to contact Chad Fitzgerald, JD, regulatory officer and senior director with Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention.

Employees with building-related items to report can contact 615-343-6000. Issues involving unresolved patient care can be discussed with Patient Relations at 615-322-8008.

“Our Mission Statement, our Credo, and our Patient promise reflect our shared values and over-arching commitment to making those we serve our highest priority. We are all connected by these shared values and how we care for one another. Our work is complex, important and personal. Managers account for up to 70 percent of an employee’s motivation and connection to an organization,” Pinson said.

“Relationships are at the core of what we do. The collaborative spirit here makes this a great place to work. Let coworkers know you value their commitment to patient care and to each other. Manage up their strengths. Thank you and your teams….for making VUMC such a special place.”

The keynote speaker, Vicki Hess, gave a motivational and humorous speech followed by a breakout session on six steps to employee engagement.

“If you want to get to professional paradise, it starts with transforming your beliefs and the beliefs of those you work with around this idea of engagement,” Hess said.

“It moves to then transforming your actions because in the end your actions reflect your beliefs and mindsets.”

Everyone in attendance was also treated to a powerful, rousing performance by the United Voices of Vanderbilt choir.

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