Want to change a life? Be a mentor

Mentoring has been one of the most rewarding benefits in my career. I have also been the beneficiary of great relationships with mentors and am forever grateful that extremely busy professionals made time for me - and made me feel like a priority - when I was learning my role as a young administrator and a new leader.

There is so much more to the mentor and mentee relationship than just learning the ropes – it’s about being a guide, a coach and a friend. The relationship is mutually beneficial, and I continue to fill both of the roles – mentor and mentee. I have been in the position of the young careerist seeking guidance, as the mentor providing the guidance, and as the mentee who needed the support to progress in my knowledge and experience. My mentors helped shape who I am today, and from their insight and lessons, I am able to mentor others to help them develop their talent, avoid common pitfalls, and guide career paths.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of being a mentee is having the full confidence to ask the mentor about industry or workplace-related questions they might not be comfortable asking others. The relationship is built on mutual trust and cannot exist without a clear understanding that questions asked in confidence stay in confidence.

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Can our Board be better? A few considerations

The best healthcare boards are dedicated to the success of the organizations and communities they serve, have a sincere hunger to stay up-to-date and informed about industry standards and stay curious about emerging trends. Board members have to be well educated on the issues, well prepared for generative discussions, and be mindful of the interests and concerns of stakeholders. Being a contemporary healthcare board member demands a great deal and, in turn, can provide a rewarding experience.

Boards play a critical role in the long-term success of organizations. In addition to the expected fiduciary responsibilities, healthcare boards are tasked with promoting and embodying the mission and vision of the institution and advocating for its well being while setting aside self-interest. Advocacy includes ongoing education of politicians and civic leaders, fundraising and networking with potential donors, and telling the organization’s “story.” It is imperative that the board builds relationships in the community in order to expand services to meet community needs and partner with other aligned organizations.

The highest functioning boards share similar traits: absolute fiduciary responsibility inclusive of finances, safety, quality and the employee and patient experiences; development, implementation and monitoring of a long-term strategic plan; and establishing leadership goals and monitoring performance compared to the goals. Additionally, most not-for-profit boards are self-perpetuating so a key responsibility for today’s board is selection of new board members. Now more than ever, an important criterion for board member selection should be diversity. In this case, diversity should be considered in the broadest sense.

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Good Operations is Good Strategy

Good operations is good strategy. Operational excellence. Blocking and tackling. Within health systems, the ongoing importance of good operations should be highlighted as a foundational element of every strategic plan. Good operations is a “no lose” strategy that positions a health system for success regardless of the many external forces providing new challenges. Value-based contracting, risk-sharing and Medicare break even strategies are all dependent on the fundamentals of sound operations. Operational Excellence requires strong and improving performance across a broad spectrum of metrics related to safety and quality, customer service and cost efficiency.

Safety and quality. Our consumers have historically assumed that a healthcare system – especially one with brand recognition – provides a safe environment and good clinical quality. They have had little information to guide decisions related to safety and quality. Health systems must compare performance against top quartile performers and make the changes necessary to achieve this level of achievement consistently. And make the information available to the public in a discernible manner that is meaningful to consumers and motivating to caregivers. Safety and quality must be embedded within any strategic plan.

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