BIDMC fills workforce pipeline
Ten BIDMC employees are starting to settle in after graduating from Pipeline programs designed to help them begin new health care careers.
The thing that makes BIDMC such a great academic teaching hospital is all the great people who work here, BIDMC President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD, President and CEO, told those assembled for the 2012 Pipeline Programs Graduation ceremony.
"These are really turbulent times in health care - there's a lot of change going on," said Tabb. "What that means is we need to adapt and innovate and these pipeline programs are a great example of our ability to do that. To figure out that we have these positions that we need to fill - positions that we're having a hard time getting good people into - and realize that we not only have good people, we have great people right here, is a fantastic, innovative way to solve the problems."
In 2005, BIDMC's workforce development department began what would grow into seven Pipeline programs aimed at helping employees qualify for jobs as nurses, surgical technologists, research administrators, medical lab technicians, patient care technicians, registration specialists, and starting this fall a new Pharmacy Technician Pipeline Program.
"More than 500 employees each year participate in Workforce Development programs and to date 74 employees have moved to new jobs as a result of our pipeline programs," said Joanne Pokaski, BIDMC's Director of Workforce Development.
Research administrator has been the most successful program to date, said Pokaski. "When we started we had 15 percent vacancy rate and our people were always getting poached by other institutions," she said. "So we asked ourselves, 'Could we find the people who have the necessary skills and train them to be successful for this role?' We've had 29 employees graduate from the program - 40 percent of current research administrators have gone through our program."
Randy Mason, Vice President of Research Operations, spoke of the win-win nature of the program.
"We've shown that we can place these folks in these jobs and that we can provide a career ladder into senior research administrator roles," he said. "The retention of the folks who are already here and who feel an ownership and belonging to BIDMC really means a lot. To take employees and say, 'We believe in you and we're going to train you and take you to the next level,' results in a retention level much higher than when we take someone in from the outside."
Graduate Linda Keys, now a full-time research administrator, had been working at BIDMC for two years when she heard about the pipeline program.
"After nine weeks, I learned a lot about grant applications, compliance and budgeting, but the biggest take-way was developing a real appreciation for what BIDMC's commitment to excellence in research means to the people who support that research," said Keys, speaking on behalf of the graduates. "The four of us worked hard, showed up to class and did our homework, but the lion's share of the work for this program was done by people who raised their hand and volunteered."
Talking about "great people," Keys praised the "directors, research administrators and folks in HR, and everyone from clinical trials, finance and compliance who showed up on Monday nights after already putting in a full day's work to show us how it's done. In between they graded our homework and matched us with mentors - another team of volunteers who raised their hands and said, 'Yes, I will help.' These folks were pretty much at our beck and call all week throughout the past nine weeks of the class."
Registration specialists are one of the first points of communication with patients. They collect patients' information over the phone so that BIDMC can properly bill for services provided at the hospital. Patient access services and workforce development partnered to create a new Pipeline program designed to teach the basic concepts and skills of patient registration to qualified employees interested in moving into this role.
The classes, which were one or two nights a week for six weeks, were taught by training specialists from the revenue cycle operations department. Graduates move into a registration specialist role with the ability to grow and develop within the department.
Patient Access Director Kristen McKenney spoke of how, like research, her department struggled with the issues of vacant positions and how they welcomed the chance to start a new Pipeline program.
"The program gives staff a chance to advance themselves, but also gives us a chance to get quality employees with the skills we need to provide our patients with the customer service they've come to expect at BIDMC."
After working in environmental services for the past two years, Jonathan Perez jumped at the chance to apply for the new pipeline program.
"This represented an opportunity to move into a better situation with room for growth and greater responsibilities," said Perez. "I'm looking forward to applying what we have learned and learning more about everything that will help me become an important part of the registration team. We'd like to thank all the people who made the program possible, all the teachers and all of our managers for allowing us the time to take part in the program. We all appreciate the opportunity being provided."