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Fellows aim to inspire change in health care

Shirley Johnson knows that health care, like many industries, is in a continuous state of change.  Old solutions, she said, will not be effective for solving today and tomorrow’s problems.  As the Chief Nursing and Patient Services Officer for California-based City of Hope, Johnson believes that innovation in health care, and having a skill set that can be deployed within organizations to improve the pace of change, will be essential. 

“The tools we engage in innovation activities serve to release the creativity necessary to view issues in different ways and allow us to search for solutions in unfamiliar or untapped places and processes,” she said.

Johnson’s focus on innovation as a nurse leader has been strengthened through her participation in the first cohort of the Interprofessional Fellowship in Innovative Health Leadership program, a yearlong fellowship program offered by Arizona State University and the American Organization of Nurse Executives in partnership with the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation.

The Fellowship, which is currently recruiting for its second cohort to start in February, is designed for professionals who have executive leadership responsibilities in their organization to implement large-scale change through innovation.  For Johnson, successful innovation within an organization is about empowering others and creating a workplace culture that is open to looking at issues in a different way. 

“It’s about engaging in exploration of issues using both qualitative and quantitative tools, and establishing alignment with our strategic vision and an innovation vision to serve the organization in achieving its outcomes,” she said.  “While senior leadership is vital, much of the true work of innovation occurs at the grassroots level where our staff are closest to the issues and the people impacted by our actions. Our staff are the true champions of innovation.”

Johnson and her colleagues in the first cohort attended several in-person immersions over the course of their fellowship.  Between immersions, they accessed readings, monthly webinars, faculty and peer-to-peer coaching and assessments, and ultimately brought their knowledge back to their organizations for further design, implementation and learning.  Impact from Johnson’s participation in the program is seen in the bone marrow transplant program at City of Hope, a world-renowned biomedical research and clinical care center with a reputation for outstanding outcomes. 

“To ensure our ability to continue to support a growing need for bone marrow transplantation, we chose to revitalize our outpatient bone marrow transplant program, creating a safe and efficient environment for some patients to receive their transplant as an outpatient,” she said.  “Such success in this design and development has allowed us to be successful in considering other complex populations for care in this center.”

The 2015 cohort will have access to the same collaborative learning tools and platforms as the first, including top interprofessional faculty and researchers and a new set of guest speakers to include Richard Carmona, 17th U.S. surgeon general; Lee Hartwell, Nobel laureate, Arizona State University; Michelle Janney, Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and immediate past president of AONE; and Scott Parazynski, professor and former astronaut, University of Texas Medical Branch.

The biggest takeaway for Johnson from her fellowship experience was the interprofessional, collaborative learning environment and the diversity of experiences brought to the program, whether through diversity of roles or geographical locations of the other Fellows.

“I was fortunate in being able to derive value in the insights and experiences brought to our cohort by not only the faculty that we were fortunate to work with, but through other cohort members as well,” she said.  “Fostering these relationships allowed the concepts we learned to be put into practice, and our own experiences were magnified because of the ability to hear how others were using the content and fostering a culture of innovation within their own areas.”

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To apply for the upcoming cohort, or for more information, visit www.InnovativeHealthLeaders.com. Applications are due by December 12, or until the cohort is full. For additional information, contact Jack Gilbert, Fellowship director at jack.gilbert@asu.edu or (602) 496-2280.

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