Catalyst Learning Blog


Articles, case studies, and success stories to guide and inspire healthcare HR, Organizational Development, and Clinical professionals.

Change Leadership on the Frontline chardyadmin


Change - it colors the everyday lives of healthcare professionals and administrators.  Even when it's a positive thing change can be stressful.  Still, some upheaval is more extreme and more challenging than others and I'm sure many would say that describes healthcare today.  One question this article seeks to answer is how do we get better at leading and supporting our team members through change? 

Consider This

Loss is a fundamental of change.  Even if the change is ultimately beneficial for all stakeholders, they are still being forced to let go of something with which they are comfortable.  Knowing this and that many people experience difficult emotions as a result is a key point to remember for successful change management.

Everyone Responds Differently:

  • Administration often has difficulty seeing the direct implications of the change on frontline employees, frequently underestimating the impact of the change.
  • Middle managers often feel pulled in different directions. They sometimes lack the information and direction needed from senior leaders to focus on multiple priorities.
  • Frontline employees often feel attacked and betrayed by changes announced by management.  Many respond with resistance, frustration, and confusion. 

When Responses Are Not Addressed...

If you or your team has a negative reaction that is not addressed and worked through, it can become a hindrance to the successful operations of the care team.  Certainly morale can take a downturn, undermining the goal of the new process or procedure.



So how can you reduce the severity of stress and the degree of diminished productivity that can result from introducing the numerous new processes, procedures, and policies that are surely impacting your facility right now?  Catalyst Learning recently used the model below in the course for charge nurse development, "Leading Change in a Dynamic Climate." 


Step 1 - Identify where you or a co-worker fall on this curve (left).  The needs and reactions of the person in 'Denial' are very different from those who are in 'Exploration'.  Step 2 - Apply the corresponding strategy (right) to aid your co-worker or employee in their transition to 'Commitment.'



Learn More

If you would like to dig deeper into this model and learn how it can support the efforts of your frontline leaders, be sure to contact us at

Two Steps Closer to Effective Nurse Leadership Succession Planning chardyadmin


A key challenge of every institution is to create an environment that nurtures growth and attracts talent that has the total package:  Business Management, Personal, and Team Leadership skills.  There are many approaches.  Anticipating the skills needed for the future can be difficult – to say nothing of the climate of change in healthcare today.


To further complicate matters for nurse leaders, today’s nursing units are populated with RNs at polar ends of the age spectrum.  About 1/3 of the nursing workforce, according to HRSA[1], is older than 50.  And, while the good news is that the number of RNs younger than 30 has significantly increased, that means there is work to do in shaping these clinicians for leadership.  Over the next 10 years, the nearly one million RNs older than 50 will reach retirement age. 

Put all this together and, if your organization has lower than desired nurse engagement scores, a higher than desired turnover rate, or time to fill average, you might be feeling like you’re approaching a critical point in your succession planning.



This article explores some of the traits of excellent nurse leaders and the place that training and development has in a good succession planning strategy.


  1. AONE published a list of competencies for Nurse Executives, captured in this graphic[2] (below).  Develop a succession plan that provides opportunities for first level nurse supervisors and nurse managers to begin growing and practicing each of these areas. 




Figure 1

2. A holistic training approach which addresses all of the domains in the model in figure 2, is a good place to start. 


Figure 2


This model may be familiar, but it still applies and is still widely used as the model for nurse leadership.  More importantly, how is your organization acting in order to ensure these traits, skills and competencies are being assessed and instilled across the nursing enterprise?


Taking Action

Any good plan of action begins with assessment.  Take a close look at your talent pipeline, key engagement measures, and compare them to the models above.  This will bring you one step closer to closing the gap in your training and succession planning strategy.




Mercy Health: Living the Mission through Education of Frontline Co-workers Catalyst Learning


Providing educational opportunities to frontline co-workers is deeply rooted in the mission of Mercy, headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri, whether they work in rural areas or the ministry’s largest hospitals. Leaders of Mercy recognize that education allows co-workers to realize their abilities, advance financially, and improve their own sense of dignity. Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, RSM, health ministry liaison and a respected leader in the healthcare community, understands that education is inherent to improving the lives and capabilities of ministry co-workers.


“Education ties in to what we are about,” Sister Roch said. “It comes from a Latin word – educare – that means... Read More

IFD Institute For Diversity National Conference June 12-13 Catalyst Learning

CLC is attending the Institute for Diversity 2014 National Leadership and Education Conference – will we see you there?


Promote Equity through Education


Uncover the potential in front-line employees with Catalyst Learning’s career development programs.


Catalyst Learning programs help to eliminate disparities in healthcare management and expand leadership opportunities among ethnically, culturally and racially diverse individuals.


We invite you to learn more at the Institute for Diversity 2014 National Leadership and Education Conference. Visit Catalyst Learning (CLC) at Booth #12 where we will be sharing how we help healthcare employers move the needle on:

·         Workforce Development

·         Employee Engagement

·         Patient Satisfaction

·         Front Line Nurse Leadership


Catalyst Learning is nationally known for School at Work® (SAW), a premier career development system for entry-level employees. We also offer training programs for other front-line employees including Expanding Your Career and Healthcare Opportunities® (ECHO) which puts mid-level employees on a nursing, clinical or management pathway. In addition, newly released NCharge® builds the leadership skills and business knowledge of first-level supervisory nurses.

NCharge® - CLC's New Training Series for First-Level Nurse Leaders Catalyst Learning

Market research tells us that many acute care facilities need to do more to equip their first-level nurse leaders with the tools to succeed. Hospitals report a need for them to be better motivators, delegators, and champions for change. In today's climate of hyper-fast transformation, also equipping the Charge RNs, Assistant Nurse Managers and other first-level supervisory nurses with "business of nursing" knowledge will assist your organization in meeting its financial goals.



The measures above are closely monitored by acute care facilities and payers, in part because of their direct impact on cost and profitability. The duties of a charge nurse touch each of these in many ways, every day.  From bed assignments, patient flow, and discharges, to supply management and supporting improvement initiatives, these nurses do it all. The pressure is high and retention in these positions can be low.


CLC has conducted intensive research to learn which skills these acute care nurses need, according to their own experience. Using focus groups, surveys, and research of other qualified healthcare resources, certain trends became clear across many U.S. hospitals and medical centers:


Hospitals Need- better retention in these roles and improved ability to manage the business of nursing.


Today's Charge Nurses Need- more structured training on leadership, management and interpersonal skills - and not just online.


"Online can be bland, compliance driven. We prefer classroom-based, hands-on training. There is a benefit of getting away from the unit and getting a group together to share experiences." - Charge Nurse Focus Group Participant



The result is a series of courses accredited by the Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA) which meets all ANCC guidelines.  NCharge® is dynamic, instructor led classroom training that integrates the business of nursing with the skills nurses need to perform at their best as supervisors.


Visit the new product page, share this with your Clinical Education Department or reach out to your Regional Manager today for more information.

Admin Assistant Day, Engagement and HCAHPS Catalyst Learning

Administrative assistants -  they save you time, money, ensure you're prepared for half a dozen meetings a day and ward off unwanted calls and emails.  If you did the math on the amount of time (money) your office assistant saves you in a given week, you'd probably be looking for the same return in all your investments.


The use of medical secretaries in hospitals, physician practices and outpatient facilities is projected to rise by 36% in the next 10 years, reports the US Department of Labor.  That's more than RN's, LPN's, Medical Techs or even healthcare IT professionals. [read article]  Comic - Busy CEO's Admin Assistant


CLC is interested in what really works to engage and retain office administrative assistants. According to U.S. News and World Reports, the two top contributors are:

1. Outstanding office benefits and

2. A strong belief in their own abilities. 


So what about the other office support roles in your organization?  If you think they can't impact quality or patient satisfaction, you might want to consider this: registrars and schedulers deal with patients that skip appointments, forget their paperwork, and pay their bills late.  Medical records clerks and transcriptionists type notes that go into medical files for quality review.  And coders contribute to reimbursement through accuracy, timeliness, and their efforts to make the switch to ICD-10.  See our special offer on 2.5 hour seminars - good only through April 23rd.


The duties of Patient Service Reps can also have a powerful impact on HCAHPS and operational effectiveness. Last month our newsletter highlighted one organization's work in professionalizing this role.  If you missed it, read here. 

Case Study: Professionalizing the Patient Service Representative Catalyst Learning

The duties of Patient Service Reps (PSRs) can have a powerful impact on patient experience and operational effectiveness.  This entry level position is often the first point of face-to-face contact for patients.  PSRs are not only responsible for being sensitive to the emotional needs of the patient, they also maintain electronic medical records, collect/verify insurance and referral information, and manage the "patient flow" of the waiting area. 


Aimed at culture change around PSRs, the  award-winning Penn Medicine in Philadelphia set out to professionalize this role by designing and implementing the Patient Service Excellence Academy (learn more here). 


Frances Graham, Director Workforce Development at Penn Medicine, led the design of the curriculum. With a multi-team approach, Penn Medicine uses...DOWNLOAD THE STUDY


Interested in the Accelerated Performance Series?


Contact Carolyn Hardy, Marketing and Communications Coordinator - or 502.584.7337

School at Work Packs RoI Punch Catalyst Learning

TriHealth is a long-time customer and a top integrated health system in Cincinnati boasting over 10,000 employees.  We'd like to share with our readers the most extensive Return on Investment study of School at Work that we've seen in our 11 years of focus on healthcare workforce development! 


Three programs were evaluated by TriHealth:  Patient Care Assistants; School at Work (SAW) participants; and Health Career Cohorts participants.  If you're looking for outcomes, look no further.


The study begins by stating its purpose: "The goals of TriHealth's Health Careers Collaborative (HCC) programs are to increase access to healthcare careers by underutilized labor pools, alleviate regional workforce shortages, and increase the diversity of health care workforces in Greater Cincinnati."


The SAW evaluation consisted of 3 classes held from 2009-2012.  Employees were divided into two groups:  36 employees enrolled in SAW ("Treatment group) and 930 employees in similar job codes who did not participate ("Control" group). 


SAW Conclusions and Outcomes 

  • Turnover Rate - 16.67%.  That's 40% lower
  • Employee Satisfaction  -  higher participation and 78.9% positive survey results
  • Diversity  - higher in Asian, Black/African American and Hispanic populations. 
  • Employee Performance Scores - participants showed a lower presence of performance counseling
  • Change in Pay Rate - the number of employees receiving an increase was 6% higher among SAW graduates.


Impressive numbers, if you ask us; and if you ask TriHealth, too.  From the data above, it sure looks like School at Work helped them to achieve their goals!  


"With such positive results, we can further encourage organizations and employees to take part in such programs. These programs will assist employees in furthering their work potential and knowledge and decrease costs associated with turnovers and new hires.

- TriHealth Study


Here are some dollars and cents to back up this claim; how does saving $45,000 per year on turnover sound?  Three years going, that's a total of $135,000 the organization saved itself - and that's just the SAW grads!


With RoI data like this, entry level employee development no longer sounds like just a nice thing to do - it sounds like a smart business plan.

Click here to download the full study