May 5, 2006

Elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: Why are so many people leaving VUMC?

Answer: Employees are the most vital asset of the Medical Center. There are some areas of high job turnover at VUMC, but at 17 percent per year, the overall turnover rate for full-time VUMC employees is within the normal range. Nevertheless, we want the rate to be lower, because that will help us become better at what we do.

One of our best opportunities to improve retention is to improve the people skills of our managers. This is part of the thrust of elevate, and the basic improvements include new habits for managers like employee rounding and thank-you notes recognizing high performance.

Sometimes people leave because they aren't suited for or happy with the job. We've put measures in place to ensure that managers describe jobs accurately to potential recruits, and we've refined the interview process to ensure that candidates fit into our culture.

VUMC promotes job mentoring by managers, faculty and staff. Mentoring improves the likelihood of an individual's success and the overall job satisfaction of staff in the work unit.

Last September we uncorked a long-awaited reward and recognition program for staff (

Some may leave because another employer has offered them a prized position. We should celebrate all job promotions, even when it means that an individual leaves Vanderbilt. When our staff receive promotions, it's a compliment to our hiring and training practices.

— Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.