In This Section      

Dome - Ensuring a cultural connection

June 2011

Ensuring a cultural connection

Date: June 14, 2011

Two new staffing plans place a priority on a common set of patient-centered values

Getting a select group of future school of medicine clinical staff oriented to new service excellence standards is the goal of Gloria Bryan and others on her human resources team.
Getting a select group of future school of medicine clinical staff oriented to new service excellence standards is the goal of Gloria Bryan and others on her human resources team.

A nurse hired by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shares many of the same clinical responsibilities as a bedside nurse hired by The Johns Hopkins Hospital. On any given day, each may collect patient data, coordinate care and make follow-up calls. The same goes for the job functions of patient service coordinators, medical assistants and other clinicians employed by the two institutions.

As new hires, though, they are required to complete two different orientation programs designed for two distinct workplace cultures. Over the years, the practice has unintentionally led to inconsistent service standards for the two groups. And when employees are divided by different sets of standards, it is often difficult to foster the teamwork required for quality patient care.

That culture gap will begin to close as of July 1, when new non-faculty school of medicine employees in jobs with direct patient contact will be required to attend selected portions of the Hopkins Hospital New Employee Orientation program, in addition to completing the university’s mandatory online orientation process.

Sitting side by side with Hopkins Health System colleagues, new university hires will be introduced to the basics of service excellence, privacy regulations, patient safety and other principles central to Hopkins Hospital’s mission. The supplemental hospital orientation program will “pull new hires into the patient- and family-centered care concept” that is transforming treatment across the health system, says Gloria Bryan, school of medicine senior director of human resources.

Practicing on the same page

The change is part of an initiative to establish a uniform set of performance standards for all clinical employees who support the Johns Hopkins University Clinical Practice Association, or CPA. Taking pains to target only school of medicine employees who have a direct impact on patients, the CPA has developed a staffing task force that will create work rules that align with health system policies governing job qualifications, job descriptions, attendance and job-performance counseling.

Existing school of medicine employees will gain additional service-excellence skills through in-service training programs tentatively scheduled to begin in July as well. For many participants, Bryan says, it will be familiar territory. Most patient service coordinators, financial counselors, nurse practitioners and other university clinical employees already “have the talent, the skill sets and the humanity needed to grasp the patient- and family-centered care concept. That is why they applied here and that is why they were hired.” 

A key question on the annual Gallup survey on employee engagement—“I know what is expected of me at work”—will drive much of the training for school of medicine employees. By reinforcing each employee’s part in the delivery of quality care, “we’re ensuring that people have an answer to that question,” says Jaymie Hornberger, assistant employment manager in the school of medicine.

Also set to begin no later than July are training sessions for university managers that will cover the new orientation requirements for university staff they supervise, as well as other staffing task force modifications to be phased in at a later date, says Kathy Forbush, a senior organizational development specialist for the university. Slated to occur this summer as well, Forbush says, are several open forums where managers and employees can discuss what is and is not changing under the staffing initiative. 

Another staffing initiative component will allow job applicants for clinical jobs on the university side to complete an online assessment called the Healthcare Selection Inventory (HSI). Already in use at Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayiew Medical Center, as well as at a growing number of academic hospitals, this tool is designed to screen out unqualified applicants by pinpointing inconsistencies in answers to questions about their ability to work in teams, adapt to schedule changes, show compassion toward patients and other essential qualities. The HSI has a proven record for identifying qualified applicants and, as a result, improving overall performance and retention, Bryan says.

The assessment, a battery of questions customized according to specific skill sets, will be used in the hiring of up to 1,000 employees a year by the school of medicine, she says. Before the screening tool becomes a part of the hiring process, hiring managers will be trained in its use, Bryan says. This training is set to start in August. 

The HSI assessment tool is scheduled to launch on or around September 1. The tool will be easy to access through, the university’s electronic applicant tracking system. Hiring managers can retrieve the HSI results through the same system.  

—Stephanie Shapiro