Our commitment to education means that we are making an impression — and an investment — in our workforce and in our community. Whether it’s earning a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, PhD or advanced certifications, we want our employees to pursue — and achieve — their academic goals. As central Virginia’s only academic medical center and as part of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Virginia’s largest public university, our commitment to higher education amounts to more than a benefit to working here. It’s our way of life.
Education Assistance for Employees and Dependents
Helping our employees and their dependents advance their education remains one of our most appreciated benefits. The VCUHS education assistance program allows full-time employees to take up to 18 credit hours per fiscal year. Their dependents may take up to 12 credit hours per year (six per semester) at VCU. All credit hours are paid for in advance, so out-of-pocket expenses are minimal. In 2012, we gave 666 employees and 123 dependents more than $4,117,898 to help advance their education. We also began offering EdAssist for our employees who are seeking advanced degrees. This online service provides a convenient, comprehensive resource to help employees maximize tuition dollars and advance their careers. Highlights of this program include free education counseling from dedicated advisors, access to discounts and 24/7 support.
Nurse Residency Program
In FY 2012, 161 new graduates participated in our University HealthSystem Consortium/American Associate of the College of Nursing (UHC/AACN) Nurse Residency program. Nurse residents reach clinical nurse II status sooner and demonstrate earlier clinical leadership skills by actively engaging in unit-based committees and performance improvement activities.
Crucial Conversations Training
VCUHS recognizes that effective communication is essential in everything we do here, but sometimes it’s not so easy. To help employees better communicate with each other, their supervisors, guests and patients, we promote and encourage the communication principles found in Crucial Conversations. Several internal representatives are certified instructors, and we continuously offer Crucial Conversations education in a variety of ways, including comprehensive seminars and team book clubs. To date, hundreds of VCUHS employees have benefited from these offerings.
Safety First, Every Day and Error Prevention Training
In 2012, VCUHS marked four years since the “Safety First, Every Day” initiative started and we began our journey to become America’s safest health system. Staff continue to be trained in safe behaviors and error-prevention tools, bringing the total to more than 11,000 individuals trained to date. The Safety Coach program has also expanded to more than 120 coaches, who provide real-time feedback and support to staff on the use of safe behaviors and tools. We now have coaches in more than 60 areas of the health system and have expanded the program to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU as well.
In 2012, we also celebrated the recognition of our 100th Safety Star. We continue to recognize these outstanding staff members who put Safety First and prevent harm from reaching our patients. We also recognized our first medical student as a Safety Star, a clear example that our culture is not only changing, but that it is spreading. This is also evidenced by the more active involvement of our resident physicians in safety and quality improvement work across the medical center.
Another example of this is the “microculture” improvement work being led by the Department of Internal Medicine. Our first demonstration project was chartered in September 2012 and involves an interdisciplinary team of residents, attendings, nurses, care partners, pharmacists and more. This team is tackling local safety culture issues and safety improvement projects utilizing the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) model started at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. Finally, our comprehensive cause analysis program has continued to expand, to help us better learn from our errors and mistakes to prevent harm from occurring in the future. This year, we trained 60 nursing leaders in basic event investigation skills, the goal of which is to have these individuals aid in the analysis of less severe events or safety event trends.
Management Training and Education
The Training and Development team strives to enrich the professional and personal lives of our diverse workforce by offering high-quality, relevant and varied educational programs and opportunities. The focus is on developing and providing courses to increase the knowledge, skills and abilities of our workforce to help them grow within the health system, be effective in their personal lives and emerge as leaders in our community. The following educational opportunities are available to leaders and staff who aspire to develop their knowledge and skills for future career opportunities and advancements.
- The Serving Our Values series of workshops focuses on the professional development of staff, with emphasis on our STAR Values: Service, Trust, Attitude and Respect. The series provides tools to staff that help them on a daily basis, as well as with their professional growth. Workshops include Understanding Yourself and Others, Performance Management and more.
- The Managing Our Values series of workshops focuses on the professional development of managers and supervisors, with an emphasis on our STAR Values: Service, Trust, Attitude and Respect. The Managing Our Values series provides a variety of ways for leaders to develop their professional skills in the workplace. Workshops include Leadership Dynamics, Behavioral Interviewing Techniques, Rewards and Recognition, Performance Management, Managing Differences and more.
- The Fostering Positive Employee Relations series examines how relationships impact the work environment. These courses seek to prevent and resolve problems that arise out of or affect work situations.
- The Embracing Diversity series examines diversity in the workplace, focusing on understanding different aspects of diversity and how differences are manifested in the workplace.
- The series of Career Development workshops provides a variety of ways for staff to develop their professional skills in the workplace. These courses provide tools that employees may use to improve themselves in their current positions or as they prepare for different positions within the health system.
- A series of Personal Development workshops provides a variety of ways for staff to develop their personal skills. The series also examines ways to reduce stress. These courses are designed to add work/life balance so that employees can better focus while at work.
- GRE Prep courses offer a self-paced forum which focus on test-taking strategies for the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE. Employees can choose to take one or both modules. After successful completion of the course, employees are reimbursed for the full tuition amount.