Business Leader Series: Christian Ralston, Norton Healthcare

Christian Ralston is the Director of Workforce Development at Norton Healthcare and a key leader in delivering technical assistance to the 11 healthcare organizations participating in the CareerSTAT Healthcare Workforce Development Academy. As a Champion organization with a long history of investing in the skills and careers of their frontline employees, Norton is exceptional in its commitment to helping other organizations develop successful advancement programs and was studied in a CareerSTAT case study on its data analytics and internal advancement strategies. This blog series will feature conversations with the workforce professionals that have been critical in the development of this innovative Academy.
The following conversation with Christian Ralston was edited lightly and published in full.

Norton Healthcare has been a key leader in developing CareerSTAT’s Healthcare Workforce Development Academy and delivering technical assistance to the participating organizations. Why is peer-learning so important and what drives you to share your successes, challenges and lessons with your peers?

Fundamentally, you can’t scale these types of programs without people being willing to share. I participate in the Academy, because I want to contribute to a movement that I believe can move the needle for our industry.

I am excited to be apart of something bigger than myself and to improve how we communicate and collaborate and synthesize and standardize our approaches. There is no guidebook or class for developing an effective workforce strategy so we need to share practices and learn from each other. We need organizations with developed programs to openly discuss opportunities, successes, and mistakes so we can deliver the opportunity and care our colleagues, patients and communities deserve.

How has participating in CareerSTAT and the development of the Academy impacted Norton Healthcare? Have you learned about new approaches or seen your efforts in a different light as a result?

Absolutely. Norton’s participation has allowed us to explore different avenues, see different models and reflect on how we can do our work even better. In documenting our programs and approaches, we inevitably ask ourselves why we arrived at these conclusions and if we can improve. Also, we are learning what is working in other communities and asking how we can apply those lessons to our organization. It might look different for us, but to grow its critical to collaborate with our peers, access efforts from across the country, and eventually standardize what we can expect from workforce development programs.

In your opinion, what is Norton’s formula for sustaining this work? In other words, what are you most excited to share with the CareerSTAT network and spread to other organizations?

Sustainability is the ability to show results: both business impact and community impact. We value CareerSTAT for the access to resources that help us scale good work, receive technical assistance, improve data collection, implement ROI strategies and understand the business impact of our workforce solutions. It provides access to tools we might not have used to tell the story from the data angle, because that’s what we need to show results. CareerSTAT is helping healthcare organization show the value we are creating and to make the case for expanding good programs.

For healthcare organizations not currently involved in CareerSTAT, what can they learn from joining and participating?

Oh my gosh. Why wouldn’t you? As a healthcare professional, I had so much to learn when I entered workforce development. Why wouldn’t you go to an expert resource that provides evidence-based best practices and a network to pull and learn from?

CareerSTAT is the first thing I tell people about. If you’re not working with a partner like CareerSTAT, you’re missing access to critical information and you’re not participating in the conversation. On another note, CareerSTAT helps us understand how to improve.
As a competitive person in a competitive industry, it’s helpful to have standards to reach toward. Often the absence of a benchmark can make you feel lost, but the Academy defines a standard of success and makes the goal real. CareerSTAT gives us the opportunity to define what success looks like and strive toward it.