prof_photo_sunny_6-2011Associate Dean at Normandale Community College, Sunny Ainley, is a member of the HealthPartners Education Council. We asked her to share some insight on her experience in health education and on working with HealthPartners.

What value does being a member of the HealthPartners Education Council bring to you?

I think that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. The way we think about developing, delivering and assessing education and learning is or should be changing. The term “skills-gap” still resonates but now is more like “ability or capability” gaps, which then means that perhaps the way that we are educating and training our workforce might need to be different from status-quo. Being a member of the HealthPartners Education Council provides both myself, our college and HealthPartners with bridging value. For us (Normandale) we value the ability to understand what the learning and educational needs and challenges are for HealthPartners employees and even partners. And to give context (bridging) to the “why” so that we as educators understand how education can map to HealthPartners business, customer and employee goals. Being a member of the council is like being an anthropologist for workforce issues, understanding first-hand what our business and workforce community needs are.

Interestingly enough, Mary Brainerd, years ago, at a MN Governor’s Workforce Conference talked about how we have, in our state and country, “talent gaps”, not “skills gaps”. I think she was spot on.

What new trends have you encountered in your role?  

Expansion of direct patient care roles: These roles are expanding quickly – much more is being expected. For example, MA’s must now understand team-based care, patient engagement, data, and technology, etc.

Expansion of Advanced Practice roles: There is a greater need for this expansion and hopefully it fills gaps and creates greater efficiency.

Skills requirement: Not really expansion of a role but a requirement that everyone – not just direct patient care employees, have a foundational ability in areas like data, information, technology, emotional (EQ) and social intelligence, to do the work that we need our workforce to do.

Quality Improvement: Expansion and a greater need for this role – however, I also see it more as a stackable competency for other roles.

New Roles:

Care Coordinators: Liaisons to connect care within and outside of a healthcare organization

Informaticists: Individuals who understand care delivery and are practiced in data, information, systems and sense-making to support activities like quality improvement, care management, population health, etc. Most people are doing this work already but organizations are committing to actual positions with titles, etc. now.

Practice Coaches: The third leg of the stool for learning, you need the education and learning, the support and resources to do it, and the practice coach to support the applied learning and progress. Again, this isn’t really a new role but emerging as more important now.

What would you like to see as new roles?

Patient Experience Analysts: Understanding the Patient Experience (Px) and translating or aligning with business outcomes, operational and workflow changes, and of course, health outcomes

Learning Coaches: Mentors, practice facilitators, weavers of work, knowledge, and progress, who can help not only clinicians but all employees – rising tides lifts all boats.

The basic premise being that work roles are great but we need the savvy liaisons that tie the roles and work activities to business and health outcomes and identify what gaps exist in-between to get there and then guide and mentor individuals to develop professionally (and personally) to fill these gaps.


Categories: People

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