Healthcare Workforce Development Academy: Peer-Learning in Action

Peer-learning is at the heart of CareerSTAT. It helped to establish the network as a go-to resource for frontline healthcare workforce development. To help organizations in the peer-led network accelerate the adoption of best practices for investing in frontline workers, CareerSTAT launched the Healthcare Workforce Development Academy in 2017. After a successful first cohort, CareerSTAT convened a second.

In late January, representatives from 16 healthcare organizations met in Charlotte, North Carolina, to start their Academy journey. They represent a broad cross-section of healthcare employers across ten states and together employ over 120,000 frontline workers. They quickly identified common issues and questions: How do you get buy-in from leaders and stakeholders? How do you make your workforce development plan sustainable? What’s the best way to implement efficiently with limited resources? The Academy will tackle these issues, and more, over the next 18 months.

Leveraging peer-experience and expertise, CareerSTAT recruited six members of the network to provide technical assistance. Specifically, these experts are among CareerSTAT’s Frontline Healthcare Worker Champions and include four members of the first Academy cohort. These people are peers who have been through it and done the work—are doing the work. Throughout the kickoff meeting, they shared their experience. Their first-hand knowledge gave context to a number of strategies and practices:

  • Leveraging an anchor strategy mission to address economic mobility within a community
  • Developing internal and external partnerships to increase the effectiveness of workforce programs
  • Identifying and leveraging funding sources
  • Measuring the impact of workforce development programs
  • Addressing organizational culture to expand diversity and equity

The kickoff was also a chance for colleagues to establish relationships and learn directly from one another. For example, in one activity participants were asked to map their organizational structure for workforce development. Unsurprisingly, no two organizations have the same structure. By sharing their results, they gained valuable insight into how peers organize the work and were able to make a clear connection between infrastructure and integrated, sustainable programs.

Academy members were encouraged to think outside their silos to identify potential challenges and potential allies. This work will lead them to develop their individualized action plans. The action plans include goals and objectives and provide a concrete, yet flexible way to measure their progress and prioritize and elevate workforce development within their organizations.

Academy members gained a new appreciation of the journey ahead. Starting small is okay. Workforce programs are challenging and can take a lot of time and effort to implement. Small victories demonstrate that these programs have value and build momentum for future programs and goals. The Academy members and subject matter experts forged valuable relationships that will last throughout the Academy and beyond.

The power of the CareerSTAT network was on full display at the Academy kickoff. From validating experiences to peer-led problem solving to getting connected to a wide array of resources, there is a wealth of expertise and information available to help Academy members meet their goals.

After two days of intensive learning, the new Academy cohort left excited and energized, ready to return home and tackle the workforce challenges ahead of them.