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Hospital academy emphasizes leadership | Mt. Airy News

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From left are Northern Regional Hospital Leadership Academy program facilitator Debbie Moser, Tina Edwards, Breann Wyse, Leah Main, Brittany McRoberts, hospital president and CEO Chris Lumsden, Jessica Mccann, Allison Bedsaul, Keith Moser, and program facilitator Jessica Arrington. (Submitted photo)

Leadership has been defined in many ways throughout the centuries. More than 150 years ago, John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

That sentiment has been embraced and brought to life by Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of Northern Regional Hospital. Two years ago Lumsden, a nationally recognized leader in healthcare administration, asked members of his Northern leadership team to establish a unique, hospital-based Leadership Academy that would encourage and empower employees to become leaders.

“Leadership is not defined by an employee’s job title,” Lumsden said. “We have many leaders throughout all levels of our organization who use their individual creativity, powers of persuasion, and persistence to inspire themselves and others to do great things. The goal of our Leadership Academy is to encourage those employees to strengthen and refine their leadership potential in order to improve patient care and enhance our community commitment, while furthering their own personal and professional development.”

Lumsden tapped two – Debbie Moser, RN, BSN, SCRN, and Jessica Arrington – to serve as co-facilitators. He also suggested they use an educational model with which he was already familiar to formulate a custom-designed curriculum for their new initiative.

“It took a great deal of time and effort to develop an enriching and immersive educational program, but it was a lot of fun, too,” said Moser, director of staff development and stroke coordinator.

“That’s very true,” echoed Arrington, director of patient access, who added that the final curriculum exposes participants to all aspects of hospital operations – from attending senior leadership meetings to touring facility spaces not typically visited or seen by most employees, including the kitchen, boiler room, and rooftop.

Employees interested in enrolling in the programmust apply with a written application and then undergo an interview with a group of hospital executives. “We’re looking for individuals who are willing to grow and eager to expand beyond their comfort zones,” explained Moser. “Participation in the academy is not necessarily designed to be a stepping stone to promotion. Rather, it’s to enable leaders to reach their full potential within the context of the organizational mission.”

Each Leadership Academy semester runs for six months and is limited to approximately eight students. Students must meet a multitude of requirements – including attending weekly class sessions, complete a reading list, shadow selected members of the hospital’s executives team, maintain journals, attend scheduled legislative field trips (to better understand the relationship between hospital operations and governmental bodies), and present a final case study to serve as a formal proposal of a well-researched project or program they’d like to pursue.

Each participant is assigned a mentor from among the hospital’s key administrators. “Mentors act as a guide and valuable resource for students – especially as students become more adept at embracing the value of teamwork and seeing and appreciating the big picture,” said Arrington.

Before earning graduation certificates, each student presents his or her case study – a project proposal that incorporates the values and practical business considerations that have been explored as part of the curriculum. To date, all proposals presented have been approved for full implementation or remain under serious consideration by the hospital’s Senior Executive Leadership Team.

Two of the most recently-approved case studies highlight the positive effect the academy has had on motivating students to move beyond their job descriptions and create programs to help serve the healthcare needs of patients and the community.

Tina Edwards, a recent Leadership Academy graduate, proposed the creation of a compassion closet to address the needs of eligible patients about to be discharged from the hospital. Her idea arose after witnessing a newly-discharged gentleman leave the facility with no shoes. Today, Edwards’ Compassion Closet houses donated clothing, toiletries, and other personal-care items – which may be provided to homeless or other vulnerable patients about to be discharged.

“The Leadership Academy was instrumental in reminding me that each of us can make a difference,” said Edwards. “For me, that difference was to help make sure that patients left our hospital with not only improved health, but their dignity, as well.”

Another recent graduate, Daniel Combs, RN, BSN, EMT-P, used his Leadership Academy training to formulate a more self-directed approach to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – which severely curtailed the one-on-one training style Combs had previously employed when training or re-certifying hospital personnel. As a result of Combs’ case study, the hospital purchased a digital training program to supplement its existing one. The new system also permits the training of interested members of the community.

“I’m proud that Northern now has the ability to expand its reach to provide life-saving CPR training to members of our community,” said Combs. “We really are relying on each other more than ever right now. What better way to look out for our neighbors than by giving them the tools they need to save someone’s life?”

Since enrolling its first January 2020 class, 13 employee-students have successfully earned their graduation certificates. “We are encouraged by the early and ongoing success of our Leadership Academy,” said Lumsden. “By continuing to develop leaders, we are able to further improve and expand Northern’s ability to meet the healthcare needs of patients and our community. It’s a win-win-win scenario, and serves as further validation of the importance of educational initiatives that focus on professional development.”

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