Seven graduate from the 2022 Northern Regional Leadership Academy – a comprehensive educational program designed to foster the leadership potential of employees who volunteer to participate in the rigorous six-month curriculum. The 2022 Class of Northern Leadership Academy included: Meredith Ayers, Hunter Grubbs, Rylee Haynes, Sabrena Hemrick, Shawn Lambert, Kayla Melton, and Ashley Moorefield.
Birth of the Academy
Author and speaker John Maxwell has noted, “The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development.”
Those sentiments have been put into practice by Chris A. Lumsden, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Regional Hospital. A nationally-recognized leader in healthcare administration, Lumsden asked members of his NRH leadership team to custom-design a curriculum three years ago – using an educational model with which he was familiar – that would encourage and empower employees to become leaders.
“Leadership is not defined by a job title,” Lumsden said emphatically. “We have many leaders throughout all levels of our organization who use their own creativity, powers of persuasion, and persistence to inspire themselves and others to do great things. The goal of our Leadership Academy is to encourage those employees to strengthen and refine their leadership potential to improve patient care, and enhance our community commitment, while further advancing their own personal and professional development.”
The program currently has two facilitators, Jessica Arrington, Director of Patient Access, and Keith Moser, Northern Family Medicine Practice Manager. Arrington noted that the comprehensive curriculum exposes participants to all aspects of hospital operations – from attending Senior Leadership team meetings to touring facility spaces not typically visited or seen by most employees – including the kitchen, boiler room, and rooftop. This year, the program tours included Mountain Valley Hospice, which is jointly owned by Northern Regional Hospital and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.
Employees interested in enrolling in the Leadership Academy must apply and then interview with a group of hospital administrators. “We’re looking for individuals who are willing to grow and eager to expand beyond their comfort zones,” explained Moser. “Participation in the Academy is not necessarily designed to be a steppingstone to promotion. Rather, it’s to enable leaders to reach their potential within the context of the organizational mission.”
Each Leadership Academy semester runs for six consecutive months; and each class is limited to approximately eight participants. Students are required to attend weekly class sessions on a variety of leadership-related topics; complete a pre-selected reading list; shadow selected members of the Hospital’s executive team; maintain journals to help reinforce impressions and new knowledge obtained from their experiences; attend legislative field trips (locally, and in Raleigh, NC, and sometimes Washington, D.C.) to better understand the relationship between business and governmental bodies; and present a final case study to serve as a formal proposal for a project or program they’d like to pursue.
Each participant is also assigned a mentor from among the Hospital’s key administrators. “Mentors act as a guide and valuable resource for students – especially as students become more adept at embracing the value of teamwork and seeing and appreciating ‘the big picture,’” explained Arrington – who has served as a mentor. “And mentorship,” she added, “is a two-way street. By breaking down hierarchical and departmental silos, communication and teamwork are enhanced throughout the organization.”
Before earning their graduation certificates, Leadership Academy students present their case studies – carefully researched project proposals that incorporate the values and practical business considerations that have been explored as part of the curriculum. To date, all proposals presented have been approved for full implementation or remain under serious consideration by the Senior Leadership Team. “The essence of the Leadership Academy is best exemplified by the rich variety of dynamic, health-related programs and services proposed by our students,” said Lumsden. “It’s exciting and very rewarding to watch the growth of new leaders within our organization use their newfound knowledge to develop programs that further the mission of Northern Regional Hospital.”
A wide variety of case study proposals were presented to leadership, including a possible coffee shop inside Northern Regional Hospital, a mobile medical unit, gait analysis equipment for physical therapy use, geographical rounding for hospitalists, no-show improvement strategies, and hospice referral tracking. “This year’s NLA class did an exceptional job on their case studies,” said Moser. “With each presentation the participants truly exemplified the vision statement of Northern Regional: ‘To be the healthcare system of choice for the community we serve.’ Each graduate put a lot
of time and effort into their case study, and it showed during each presentation. It was an honor to be
one of this year’s facilitators for Northern Leadership Academy. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for each one of our graduates at Northern Regional Hospital.
“We are very encouraged by the early success of our Leadership Academy,” said Lumsden. “By continuing to develop leaders within our hospital, we can further improve and expand our ability to meet the healthcare needs of patients and the community. It’s a win-win-win arrangement, and further validation of the importance of educational initiatives that focus on professional development.”