Program Helps Norwegian American Hospital Provide Paths to Leadership


As physicians take on increasing levels of executive responsibility within hospitals, their skills need to evolve with their role. While caring for patients will always be paramount, other skills related to cross-functional collaboration, conflict resolution, managing to metrics and long-term strategy become equally important. Norwegian American Hospital, a 200-bed safety-net hospital in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, recognized this need within its organization and embarked on a professional development partnership with the American Hospital Association that will help it engage and develop physicians to build a pipeline of future leaders.

“We identified three needs for our organization,” says Michelle Blakely, PhD, Norwegian American’s chief operating officer. “We need to engage with physicians differently. Second, we need to create true partners. Finally, we want to help our physicians develop as leaders to provide them with the requisite skills to be successful beyond their clinical competence in any facet of health care. Through our internal executive-level conversations, we agreed a physician development program was the best way to meet these needs. But we really didn’t have the experience or resources to develop one.”

Norwegian American overcame its limitations and met its goals by becoming one of the first participants in the American Hospital Association’s Physician Leadership 360 program, which provides professional and leadership development for physicians. Participating organizations in Physician Leadership 360 work with the AHA to develop goals for the engagement. The AHA’s partner Strategic Talent Solutions (STS) then conducts professional leadership feedback and development planning based on its 360 assessment process. STS is a consulting partnership founded on a deeper understanding of what competitive strategies demand from talent. The firm has worked with health care organizations for many years and offers a full range of services to help these physician leaders hone the leadership skills required to create and maintain high-functioning teams.

The AHA and STS use the results from the assessment to conduct professional leadership feedback and coaching to create an action-oriented development plan and provide other resources that are tailored to the organization’s goals and staff. Using the feedback, the Norwegian American team worked together to design projects that gave participants opportunities to apply and further develop their leadership skills. A Physician Leadership 360 engagement typically lasts six to eight weeks.

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