Situation: Like many other healthcare organizations, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) faced a skills gap among its administrative staff. This large group of almost 850 employees includes admin assistants, customer service representatives, program coordinators, schedulers and access service representatives. The requirements and skills necessary to be a successful in an administrative role had changed over the last several years, while the talent and career development for these staff lagged behind.
At the same time, the hospital faced a shortage of external candidates resulting in constant vacancies. Adding to the challenge, on a more global scale in the healthcare industry, was that the title administrative assistant no longer reflected the skills and abilities of the professional, nor did it necessarily match the requirements of individual units within a healthcare system.
CCHMC, recognized not only as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Cincinnati for many years, but as the third in the nation for Pediatric Hospitals by US News and World Report, was facing a talent shortage— one that if not addressed, could have a significant impact on operations, employee engagement and patient satisfaction. CCHMC made a strategic decision to implement a career ladder program to improve employee versatility, and ultimately patient care.
Solution: In order to assess the career development needs among its administrative staff, CCHMC conducted a Morehead Employee Survey in 2012. The survey found that a significant number of administrative assistants wanted more support with career development and advancement opportunities.
This feedback further supported CCHMC’s overall staffing needs, prompting management to offer a tool and career coaching resource to assist administrative staff with career development and advancement. CCHMC was already successfully partnering with Catalyst Learning on School at Work® and so they decided to integrate CareerCare® to meet the Admin staff’s career management needs.
“Career development within a healthcare setting requires a variety of tools available to fit the unique needs of the various employees including their work schedules, family situations and educational goals,” said Beth Smith, BSN, employment support specialist for CCHMC. “School at Work and CareerCare provide the flexibility and scope to be able to identify the specific needs of the employee and select the appropriate tool which best meet the needs.”
CareerCare quickly became one of CCHMC’s primary tools for career development of its administrative staff, using the program in conjunction with personal career coaching and academic advising.To publicize the new service, management met with the leadership of the Administrative Assistant professional organization (C-CAP) within CCHMC to explain the new career development focus. In turn, that organization invited senior leadership and the career coach to present at their monthly membership meeting to recruit candidates to participate in the self-directed CareerCare project with career coaching.
Management continues to value CareerCare’s web-based approach because it provides flexibility for employees with different schedules, goals and educational backgrounds. Moreover, CareerCare allows employees to have a structured tool to use at their own pace to assess current skills, explore educational options, realize obstacles to achieving goals, and develop a realistic plan.
Results: Based on the reviews from the program’s participants, providing career development tools like CareerCare is essential to driving employment engagement. Elizabeth, an Administrative Assistant at CCHMC said, “I was able to complete the tool, and I found it very useful to help me identify my goals and then set my SMART goals. I have been successful in achieving a new position (one of my top goals) in Sponsored Programs-Accounting and will begin my new job as a grant accountant.”
Melinda, also an administrative assistant, voiced her support for the program as well. “I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of CareerCare,” she said. “From my experience, it helps a lot when you are looking for direction in your career and you’re not exactly sure which way you should go.”
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is the third best children’s hospital in the U.S., according to Parents magazine. CCHMC was also inducted into the Cincinnati Business Courier’s “Best Places to Work Hall of Fame” after making the annual list for several consecutive years.
For more information on CareerCare, please email Brittany Gearhart at email@example.com or visit the CareerCare product page.
Timmicia Ward has worked hard to transform herself into a role model who exemplifies the standards of her organization. Through the School at Work program, she actively supported her classmates and worked diligently to improve her scores – impressing her managers with an increasingly positive and can-do attitude. The hard work paid off. Timmicia graduated from SAW with honors and immediately sought opportunities to expand her professional portfolio. Soon after, she won a scholarship to defray college expenses and is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration while carrying a 4.0 GPA. Timmicia was also nominated to attend a six-month leadership development program so that she graduated with an additional certificate for exceeding expectations.
Timmicia was recently promoted to a lead specialist position. She has not only increased her knowledge, but also has transformed herself into the forward-thinking, goal-oriented, positive person she is today. She’s an amazing example of a “Dream Achiever.”
"Dream Achievers!" awards recognize professional and personal accomplishments in the health care industry. The awards are part of a nationwide contest sponsored by Catalyst Learning. Catalyst Learning is a leader in healthcare workforce development with an emphasis on strengthening the front-line workers employed in entry- and mid-level positions.
Employers nominate employees for the “Dream Achievers!” award based on an employee’s continuing efforts towards professional education and career achievement, as well as serving as an inspiration to coworkers and members of the community. Nominees were selected through an online voting process hosted by Catalyst Learning.
While working as an administrative assistant with the UC Davis Health System, Robin Shelton told a coworker she wanted to manage the office within five years. That was 2009 – the same year Robin began the School at Work (SAW) program. Although it was a challenge, Robin completed her coursework while also balancing work and family responsibilities. Last year, she began an accounting certification program at UC Davis. Robin is currently working as an Analyst II Supervisor, four positions higher than she was four years ago.
“This is all due to the SAW classes,” Robin said. “It not only gave me the tools, but also the confidence that I could do anything I set my sights on. Thanks to the encouragement of family and my supervisor, I will work towards my goal as Finance Manager of our office, one step closer to my dream.”
James Myers began his career at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 2006 as a patient transporter. The following year he graduated from the School at Work program, furthering his goal towards becoming an interventional radiologic technologist. While working full-time as a patient care associate, James earned his degree in radiography at Gateway Community College in New Haven. Today, he is an interventional radiologic technologist for YNHH in its Interventional Radiology Laboratory.
In 2009, Patti Koscal enrolled in the School at Work (SAW) program through the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., where she held a position working the night shift as a certified nursing assistant for 10 years. Though Patti enjoyed caring for others, she felt something was missing from her career. Patti credits SAW with giving her the confidence to apply for new positions within the VA. Through SAW, Patti’s sons witnessed a transformation in her as well, noticing that their mother had more motivation and a “can do” attitude. “As a SAW coach and mentor, I have witnessed first-hand how employees ‘grow from within’. Patti’s story is one of inspiration and I am proud to work for an organization that has chosen to invest in employees’ dreams to advance,” shared Marcy Engebretson, MSN-Ed, SAW Coach/Mentor, Tomah VAMC.
After graduating from SAW, Patti secured a new role as a medical supply technician and is now the lead in her department. She continues to be actively engaged and committed to her career path as she uses skills learned in SAW to mentor and teach new employees in her department. In Patti’s own words, “This is one of the best things I have ever done for myself!”
Tammy Heiler began her journey in the School at Work (SAW) program while working as a certified home health aide. Tammy wanted to advance her career, and she recognized the SAW program could help her achieve that goal. After completing the program, Tammy attended the SAW graduation luncheon where she spent time with the CEO, David Tilton. He encouraged Tammy to apply her new knowledge and further advance her career, just as Tammy herself had planned while working as a home health aide. Tammy now works in the Business Office and attributes her career advancement to SAW.
“The SAW program has been a wonderful addition to our employee development offerings, and as we prepare to launch our fifth class, I am confident we will continue to get a great return on this investment,” said Rick Lovering, vice president, Human Resources & Organizational Development. “Many of our SAW graduates, like Tammy, have advanced their careers with AtlantiCare and continued their education. They all continue to be highly engaged employees helping us achieve our vision of building healthy communities!”
“This program has changed my life,” Tammy said. “It gave me the opportunity to brush up on skills that I had forgotten, and I learned new skills.”
Eight years ago, Leroy Grant struggled to find employment, but discovered Bon Secours Virginia Health System with help from the Salvation Army. What Leroy didn’t know was that his new boss, Wes Thiss, was about to awaken an unrealized potential in him. “Wes saw potential in me that I didn’t see in myself,” Leroy said. “You may know you have potential, but you need someone to pull it out of you.”
The following year Leroy participated in the School at Work (SAW) program, graduating as valedictorian of his class. Today, Leroy is a patient care tech working full time and attending nursing school. He credits SAW with giving him the confidence to take advantage of advancement opportunities at Bon Secours Virginia Health System – including classes in budgeting, tuition reimbursement and career advancement.
“Because of School at Work, I scored so high on my entrance exams that my college eliminated some of my prerequisites,” Leroy said. “School at Work boosted my confidence. I really feel like I can do anything.”
Through her faith, family and friends, Lois Dukes overcame many challenges to complete the School at Work program and advance her career. Although Lois intended to begin the program in 2011, an auto accident and the loss of a loved one the following year delayed her dream. Lois endured another setback with the elimination of a former job position. Still, she persevered and was accepted into the SAW program. Completing the program gave Lois an improved resume and interview skills. “Just mentioning the School at Work program opened up so many doors for me,” Lois said.
“Our senior leadership believes that everyone is a leader, regardless of title,” said Dawn Runge, Ph.D., SPHR, interim system vice president of innovation and learning at SSM Health Care. “It was important that we provided an opportunity for those leadership skills to emerge, thus we selected Catalyst Learning’s School at Work Program.”
Lois is now a surgery inventory assistant and working towards her dream of being a respiratory therapist at Forest Park Community College. She exemplifies how perseverance and work ethic are essential to achieving dreams.