Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pipeline to happiness

As we home in on July 4 and think about "the pursuit of happiness," I want to report on a particularly joyous program at BIDMC. I do not want to suggest that we are the only place to run such programs, but many of us are very pleased about the particular results we have been able to achieve.

We call these our "pipeline" programs. They are designed to give lower wage workers a helping hand in learning new skills so they can get jobs in more advanced positions in the Medical Center -- higher paid jobs in fields that are bound to be in high demand for years to come and which, themselves, serve as steppingstones to future promotional opportunities. This week, we honored and celebrated people who have become certified as Patient Care Technicians, Surgical Technologists, and Research Administrators.

Patient Care Technicians work with nurses and others to provide direct patient care. They play a vital role in the delivery setting, on the floors of the medical/surgical units. We created a nine week in-house program to train people into this role. During the first six weeks, the employees attended class two nights a week and participated in five skill practice sessions. After successfully completing the classroom training, they entered a three week, full-time hands-on training period on a patient care unit run by a nursing educator. The trainees received their salary during this time.

A Surgical Technologist assists in surgical operations, with duties that include helping prepare the room before surgery and passing instruments and other sterile supplies during surgery. Our training program is a five semester program offered as a partnership between BIDMC and Mass Bay Community College. Students took classes and participated in clinical practica on-site at BIDMC and attended lab sessions at MBCC. They received a stipend for financial support and maintained full benefits during the final two program semesters, when they were obligated to spend 24 hours a week in clinical training and needed to cut back on their regular work hours.

A Research Administrator is a professional who is responsible for administrative operations of research grants and contracts. Our Research and HR departments worked together to create an in-house program to teach the basic concepts and skills of research administration and taught classes one night a week for eight weeks.

At yesterday's ceremony, the participants, their families, and their previous and new managers were on hand to offer congratulations. There were lots of smiles, and I believe we were able to help people in their "pursuit of happiness."

For the sake of privacy, I will not provide full names, but you will get a sense of the diversity of the participants from their first names, and you will also get a feel for how much they are stepping up, in that I list the jobs they are leaving to take on their new roles:

New Patient Care Technicians/previous job
Yajaira/patient transporter
Frewoine/food service assistant (i.e., kitchen)
Zenebu/environmental services assistant (i.e., cleaning staff)
Elizabeth/food service assistant
Doris/room service assistant (i.e., food delivery)
Jennifer/patient observer (i.e., sitter)
Betca/patient transporter
Louis/environmental services assistant

Surgical Technologists/previous job
Angelo/unit assistant, post-op area (i.e., transport, cleaning, etc.)
Thomas/technician in surgical instrument cleaning room

Research Administrators/previous job
Heather/program coordinator in hematology/oncology
Julianne/research assistant in transplant medicine
Gloria/AA in gerontology
Sabrina/AA in surgery
Rachelle/clinical research coordinator in hematology/oncology

Yesterday's ceremony was just one of several during the year covering these job categories and other personal advancement programs. We use hospital earnings for these purposes -- but we are also grateful for the essential support provided by private donors (including gifts from other staff in memory of Quensella Cooper, one of our beloved employees), the state government, and the Boston Foundation for their support of these and similar programs in our hospital.


e-Patient Dave said...

I just love hearing stuff like this. We read so much in the business press about the supposed "economic reality" of inexorably cutting costs by cutting jobs, especially the lowest paid ones, with mid-level employees inexorably being pushed to lower-paid jobs; yet here we have a successful institution moving things in the opposite direction, even as it pulled itself out of a major tailspin just a few years ago.

Please, business leaders who read this: let's open our eyes and be aware that it CAN be profitable to nurture "human capital." (Not to mention that it's just plain decent!)

Anonymous said...

I agree with e patient Dave, and not only that, but you know they're well trained since you trained them yourself, and you know their individual strengths and weaknesses since you have already had them on your staff as well as trained them! If there were ever a win-win situation for hospitals (who are always looking for good staff) as well as the staff members, this is it!
And might I mention it's also a good way to put those non-profit dollars to use, as it benefits patient care.

Now about that research to clone Paul.... (:


Anonymous said...

One of the late Tim Russert's favorite sayings was "The best exercise for the human heart is to bend over and help someone else up". That saying kept echoing in my head and heart as I watched this graduation!
Good luck graduates, nice work BIDMC!