OakLeaf-CVTC connection

Inpatient nurse Sonja Domer, standing, goes over a care plan with RN’s Kathy Klees, left, and Debbie Horner at OakLeaf Surgical Hospital recently. Leaders completed a leadership training program through CVTC that helped focus the staff on common goals.

A look around the room during a meeting of the leadership team at OakLeaf Surgical Hospital in Eau Claire reveals a lot of promise. For one thing, growth in the organization has made the team larger than ever, and some of those new people have something in common.

“We have a relatively progressive leadership staff,” says Human Resources Director Dorothy Conroy.

“We like to promote from within, too,” says CEO Anne Hargrave-Thomas. “Leadership training helps with the transition from a staff role into a managerial or leadership role.“

Those are just a couple of factors that led the OakLeaf team to decide it was time for some leadership training. For that, they turned to Chippewa Valley Technical College.

To some leaders who misunderstand the concept, the idea of leadership training may seem like a suggestion that they have been doing things wrong and need someone to straighten them out. That is far from the truth. An organization can have marvelous leaders in top positions and still benefit from leadership training. People have different styles of leadership, but they need to be working toward a  common goal.

“We have some new leaders, and we needed  to make sure everyone is going in the same direction,” Conroy says.

“When I meet with a client who’s interested in leadership training, we form a core group of skills for their leaders to be effective,” says Dan Burns, the CVTC trainer who conducted the sessions at OakLeaf.

Burns says the information conveyed in the training falls into three areas. The first is for leaders to be able to lead themselves effectively, which involves recognizing their areas of strength and the gaps in their abilities.

Next comes the ability to lead people. Among the topics OakLeaf decided to pursue in this area were communicating effectively with staff, effective decision making, problem solving, having difficult conversations, and managing overall performance.

Finally, Burns says, is the leader’s ability to drive organizational results. “Every organization has goals it is striving for. With OakLeaf, a primary goal is outstanding patient care and customer service.“

Taking the training were 15 members of the OakLeaf leadership team, including nursing supervisors who worked at the nursing stations with the staff RNs. Conroy feels the staff particularly benefitted from a session on dealing with difficult behaviors. But the entire program received rave reviews from the staff.

“The managers really enjoyed the training and quickly embraced some of the new tools they obtained. We did not have any open seats, and we had very positive feedback about the program,” says Hargrave-Thomas. “Even me, who has been in leadership roles for over 20 years, can always glean some helpful information from this type of training.“

The training involves more than sitting in a conference room and talking. Burns makes a point of doing follow-up on each lesson.

“Each session starts with a debriefing of what they learned and how they applied it,” he says. “And they were a great group to work with. The feedback I received was very positive.“

“Dan did a really outstanding job conveying the message — and it was information that was needed,” Conroy says.

Like any organization that plans to continue to move forward, OakLeaf is not finished with leadership development. Conroy says they are exploring training on additional topics like  leading a multi-generational staff, and reinventing customer service in healthcare.

“We’re hoping Dan can develop a curriculum to meet our needs,” Conroy says.

“The program for the newer managers really provided a foundation from which to grow,” Hargrave-Thomas says.

Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community.

Its campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west-central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.

OakLeaf Surgical Hospital is a highly respected, privately-operated hospital designed exclusively for elective surgery patients. Today, more than 50 surgeons in 18 different specialties offer surgical procedures at OakLeaf on an outpatient or overnight stay basis.

This unique state-of-the-art facility offers an alternative to the large institution when one is contemplating surgery. OakLeaf Surgical Hospital is licensed, Joint Commission accredited and Medicare certified.

To find out more about OakLeaf Surgical Hospital, call 715-831-8130 or 800-635-6197, or visit www.oakleafsurgical.com/

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