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StrategyShare2020 presents thought-provoking sessions

Oct. 7, 2020, 3:00 PM

StrategyShare2020 co-chairs Erin Tickle, MMHC, RN, and David Calkins, PhD, guided the program from physically distant podiums in front of cameras at VUMC’s Collaboration Space on West End Avenue.
StrategyShare2020 co-chairs Erin Tickle, MMHC, RN, and David Calkins, PhD, guided the program from physically distant podiums in front of cameras at VUMC’s Collaboration Space on West End Avenue.

by Jill Clendening

Although the global COVID-19 pandemic forced StrategyShare2020 organizers to rapidly transform the event to an online-only format, there were no compromises in the quality and depth of the presentations, and more than 1,000 individuals registered to participate interactively, a record number for the annual event.

StrategyShare showcases innovative work underway to advance Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Strategic Directions, which were recently updated to: Design for Patients and Families; Make Diversity and Inclusion Intentional; and Discover, Learn and Share.

This year, 31 short presentations were shared by a diverse mix of thought leaders, patients and front-line employees from throughout the Vanderbilt community during 90-minute sessions presented over three days. The subject matter was wide-ranging but intentional, with many topics mirroring 2020 headlines such as COVID-19-related initiatives as well as content related to racism and social injustice. Sessions highlighted both successful initiatives as well as possible future directions, and virtual attendees were no doubt introduced to niches of innovation they had not previously encountered.

“This year’s StrategyShare event saw more iterations than we could have imagined when we started this work a year ago,” said StrategyShare2020 event co-chair Erin Tickle, MMHC, RN, senior director of VUMC Shared Governance. “Through all of the re-grouping, updating themes and learning how our world was changing in the moment, we kept focusing on delivering a program that would touch all of our community and open the space for celebration, conversation and continued learning. I think this amazing team accomplished that, and we came away in awe of the wonderful people we have here at VUMC and so proud to be a part of this tremendous organization.”

While the pandemic might have been briefly viewed as an obstacle by organizers, the virtual format greatly expanded the reach and ignited the creative energy that has always been a trademark of the annual event.

“Erin and I shared a vision almost immediately when we began discussing StrategyShare2020 almost a year ago,” said event co-chair David Calkins, PhD, vice chair and director for Research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute. “We both wanted to tap the grass-roots talent that makes VUMC really hum as an organization. Even when by necessity we had to pivot to a virtual format, we held true to that original vision.

“When we realized we could use the virtual format to extend the program over days, our amazing team of committee co-chairs really became excited. The beautiful program we all enjoyed was born of their inspiration.”

The first day’s theme was “Leveraging our Foundations of Success,” and sessions addressed how artificial intelligence is improving health care management and delivery; how episode-based care bundles are transforming patient care; and how VUMC is working to better serve specific patient populations such as transgender individuals and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

One of the most gripping sessions featured patient and VUMC Trans Buddy Program volunteer Olivia Ruth Hill sharing her lifetime of experiences as a transgender individual in search of her real self.

She discovered VUMC offered what she called “a one-stop shop” for transgender individuals needing specialized medical care. In May 2019 she completed her gender affirmation journey by having facial feminization surgery with plastic surgeon Julian Winocour, MD.

“As a Vanderbilt employee of 25 years, I think we need to do a better job of promoting to not just to the Vanderbilt community and not just to Nashville, but to Middle Tennessee, the South, and to everywhere in this country how great Vanderbilt is and everything transgender individuals can get here,” Hill said.

“I run a trans support group that meets twice a month, and every time we have new people, I let them know about Vanderbilt and what all is offered. They are always amazed.”

Following her presentation, Hill joined adult and pediatric providers who serve transgender patients for a panel discussion. The virtual conversation highlighted existing resources for LGBTQ patients as well as suggestions on how VUMC can better meet the needs of this community and their families.

The second day’s presentations had the theme “Pivoting to Confront COVID-19 and Racism,” and topics highlighted the countless ways VUMC front-line clinicians and staff quickly and expertly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic; how the Medical Center is working to better confront racism and social injustice; how the pandemic has further exposed barriers to care that must be overcome; opportunities for breaking down language barriers; and how Employee Resource Groups can better connect and provide support to the VUMC workforce.

A panel discussion led by Del Ray Zimmerman, director of the Program for LGBTQ Health and Diversity Affairs, focused on Employee Resource Groups which are voluntary, employee-led groups who share a characteristic, whether its gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, lifestyle or interests.

Four ERGs already established at VUMC are an African-American ERG, a Hispanic/Latinx ERG, a LGBTQ ERG and a Veteran’s ERG. Later this year, ERGs to serve the disability community and an ERG for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will be established.

The third day’s theme was “Creating a Better World Together,” and sessions addressed how to the Medical Center strives toward racial equity; how to recognize and respond to microaggressions; strategies to add diversity to the nursing workforce; how VUMC extends patient care beyond clinical walls; an innovative idea to foster the caring spirit; how art therapy can heal historical trauma; and how the pandemic has spurred new thinking about intellectual neighborhoods.

Switching to an online format enhanced interactions as StrategyShare2020 presenters were virtually connected to attendees by way of their computer or smartphone screens, and question-and-answer sessions provided easy interactions.
Switching to an online format enhanced interactions as StrategyShare2020 presenters were virtually connected to attendees by way of their computer or smartphone screens, and question-and-answer sessions provided easy interactions. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Representatives of the Vanderbilt community shed light on microaggressions by giving examples they’d experienced in the past.

Microaggressions are subtle comments or actions, often unconscious or unintentional, that express discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.

Nadia Crank, a medical interpreter, is Muslim and wears a hajib. She recounted being asked if she felt lucky to be able to find a job even though she wore a head scarf. Cam Henry, MD, an African American radiology resident, talked about being asked to remove a food tray when coming into a patient’s room. Shawn Reilly, a program coordinator for the Program for LGBTQ Health, feels microaggressions are often unintentional as others attempt to support LGBTQ individuals but often don’t know the appropriate language to use.

Leah Chisholm, MD, and medical student Michelle York presented the results of a national survey they conducted with medical students about racial microaggressions. Their results showed that more than half of the around 200 medical students responding said they had experienced racial microaggressions during their medical training and that those experiences contributed to burnout, negatively impacted their learning and even made them question their ability to be a successful physician.

“One of the most important things you can do is to be self-aware — to understand and accept your own biases and flaws, and then educate yourself,” said Chisolm.

Training on microaggressions has been added for VUSM students, and there is an effort to extend education on this issue throughout the Medical Center.

“The stories we heard brought tears to my eyes and pride to my heart,” said William Stead, MD, Chief Strategy Officer for VUMC. “They painted a vivid picture of our Strategic Directions working together to prepare VUMC to pivot as we were challenged by the tornado, COVID-19 and addressing systemic racism. They show us responding by leaping forward.

“The ‘behind the scenes’ work by Erin, Dave, the program committee and the prduction team to change course and leverage the virtual environment mirrored the intensity of the stories captured throughout the event.”

Individuals acknowledged for their work on StrategyShare2020 are the co-chairs of the StrategyShare2020 committees; members of the planning committees; Herschel Pollard, MSIS, Strategy and Innovation consultant; and Krystyna Barnard, MPS, senior communications specialist, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences; Kristy Sinkfield, MEd, director, Strategy and Innovation Office; Susan Meyn, senior director, Office of Research; Alan Johnstone, media services manager; Nick Alonzo, media specialist; Will Coats, IT consultant; Steven Weissenburger, MEd, senior Strategy and Innovation consultant, Devyn Myles, tech support specialist; and Taylor Avery, program manager, Strategy and Innovation Office.

All StrategyShare2020 presentations will be posted online this week at

Regular updates on ongoing strategic initiatives at the Medical Center are also posted at this site.

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