|"Knowledge is always in terms of concepts and can be passed on by means of words or other symbols. Understanding is not conceptual, and therefore cannot be passed on. It is an immediate experience, and immediate experience can only be talked about (very inadequately), never shared."
--Aldous Huxley, "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow" (1956)
Owens & Minor, Inc., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, has been an industry leader in healthcare since 1882. When Owens & Minor University (OMU) added customer education as part of its mission in 2006, an opportunity presented itself to support professional development in nurses as part an alliance between OMU and
The looming challenge in nurse demographics encouraged AORN, VCU, and OMU to create an online leadership development course for nurses who were being promoted into leadership roles without, for instance, experience in leading medical teams, practice in coaching, or solid knowledge of current best practices in supply-chain management (as perioperative nurses are often the decision-makers or influencers regarding medical supply needs for the operating room). In order to assure a comprehensive leadership program that created lasting relationships and offered practical learning that could be applied on-the-job, the program needed to connect well-established nurses to serve as mentors to the cohort of students.
To create an effective mentoring program, the alliance would need to overcome the challenges of
The alliance between OMU, AORN, and VCU came up with a way to overcome logistics, time, and culture, embedding the mentoring program throughout the leadership development course as a way to integrate feedback from the mentors, anchor the learning within a larger context, and help focus the action learning capstone exercise. The program has been quite successful from its first year of implementation (2009-10), and it has been growing and expanding, in no small part due to the efforts of integrating the mentoring program and making adjustments along the way.
|Challenge||Create a cross-organization mentoring program for nurses to support developing the next generation of nurse leaders while overcoming logistics, time and culture|
|Solution||Establish an orientation program to set expectations, integrate the mentoring efforts throughout the leadership development learning modules, and connect the mentors with the action learning project|
|Results||80% of the mentors agreed to sign up for the next cohort, and the projects undertaken by the cohorts resulted in outcomes such as
- reducing operating room inventory from US$1.2MM to US$600K (and still dropping),
- realizing cost savings of US$300K in unnecessary inventory by sending obsolete items back to vendors,
- improving patient safety by increasing medication labeling accuracy from 83% to 91%, and
- standardizing processes to reduce last minute surgery cancellations which led to increased patient satisfaction
|Lessons Learned||(1) Proximity: Pair mentors and proteges within driving distance
(2) Mentor match criteria: Besides specific type of nurse, match on hospital size and type
(3) Visibility: Make the mentors more visible in the AORN annual conference
|12th Annual Learning Excellence and Innovation Award||Exemplary Practice: Alliances|
Members of CorpU can read more detail about the specifics behind Owens & Minor's mentoring activity embedded in the nursing leadership development program as part of their corporate university outreach efforts.
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