Guiding Change

by Debbie Simon, UnityPoint Health

The American healthcare system today faces unprecedented challenges related to access, quality and cost containment. Demand for change—and strong leadership to guide that change—is something Methodist recognizes and has planned for.

The Methodist Corporate University is our strategic umbrella for employee education and development. All employees participate in one or more of the four branches of Methodist Corporate University—the Leadership Development Institute, Team Member Education, Clinical Development and Computer Education. With women representing 82 percent of our 3000+ employees and 67 percent of current leadership, we are justifiably proud of the strong women leaders we have recruited, developed and retained.

Leadership development at Methodist is encouraged in many ways. Through an annual talent management and succession planning process, our current leadership team identifies high-potential successors, as well as “extra stars” with the potential to be developed into leadership roles. Development paths include Corporate University classes, “stretch” assignments and continuing education under our tuition reimbursement program. The quarterly Leadership Development Institute focuses on skills from change management to sustainability planning, while monthly “Leadership Learns” sessions serve as forums for education and idea sharing.

I am proud to say that mentoring is another cornerstone of the Methodist leadership philosophy. As a young registered nurse fresh out of the University of Illinois, I was mentored by talented nursing professionals who saw potential in me and gave me the skills and confidence to succeed. Chief among those mentors was Martha Fritz, longtime VP of nursing, who set an example for me of what nursing leadership could and should be.

Since 2002, we have formalized mentoring in many areas through our Clinical New Hire Support program, which partners newly-hired clinical personnel, from registered nurses to radiologic technologists, with a trained mentor in their area of expertise. Mentors provide support in the new hires’ clinical orientation and, even more importantly, support their personal development and transition into the organization. The program, which has been identified nationally as a best practice in healthcare, is now being expanded to provide support in nonclinical departments.

In addition, our affiliation with Iowa Health System has enabled us to supplement our local process with IHS executive coaches and mentors for high-potential leaders and physicians in Peoria.

Jeanine Spain, Methodist vice president of hospital nursing services, recognizes the benefits of mentoring. “I have had many mentors in my 37-year career at Methodist. From my first mentor, Ruth Kensil Snyder, who taught me to think outside the box, to current CEO Debbie Simon, I have been able to build on my leadership skills through a strong mentoring program. Debbie instilled in me a strong belief that safe, high-quality healthcare outcomes can be achieved by being a part of strong partnerships.”

As we enter an era that will bring about extraordinary change in healthcare, all of us at Methodist are confident we are nurturing the leaders with the skills and vision to handle the issues of challenges of today… and tomorrow. iBi