A cohort of recent graduates from a leadership program are ready to put their knowledge to the test with a quality improvement project they developed for their required capstone project.

The Healthcare Leadership Academy (HLA) is a collaborative effort between Keck Medicine of USC and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Led by a multidisciplinary team of facilitators composed of faculty from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and external leadership experts, the nine-month program provides hospital leaders an opportunity to explore challenges in today’s academic health care environment; develop and strengthen leadership skills; and network and expand professional relationships. The fourth cohort of HLA will begin this fall.

Wee-Ling Wong listens during a recent session of the Healthcare Leadership Academy, held at a ropes course in Malibu. (Photo/Tracy Kumono)

“The HLA program provides a unique opportunity for leaders of both of our organizations to learn together,” explained Matthew McElrath, EdD, chief human resources officer at Keck Medicine. “It also brings physician leaders and administrators into a collaborative place where they can apply management skills to real challenges our organizations face. Developing leaders from the inside strengthens our organization for the future.”

Lisa Johnson, MSN, RN, OCN, director of nursing at Keck Hospital of USC; Cheryl Schuch, MSN, nurse manager at Keck Hospital; Shihab Sugeir, MD, clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology (clinician educator) at the Keck School; and Wee Ling Wong, PhD, international programs director at Keck Medicine, were one of nine project teams to successfully graduate from the academy in June. The team implemented a Quality Improvement Implementation Pathway project. Housed on the Intranet site, it is a roadmap to guide physicians and staff through the process of proposing quality improvement projects related to products, clinical practices and policies. Flow charts show the process from start to finish, walking users through required documents, stakeholders to contact, the process to secure funding, as well as any required contracts.

“We realized there was a lot of confusion on where to start with quality improvement projects so we developed this pathway so people know who to reach out to and who can mentor them,” Sugeir said. The team aims to help streamline the process for quality improvement ideas and make it more transparent.

Attendees listen during a recent session of the Healthcare Leadership Academy, held at a ropes course in Malibu. (Photo/Tracy Kumono)

Johnson said employees were surveyed before the implementation pathway was launched to gauge their knowledge of the quality improvement project process, and a post-survey will be conducted to determine if the pathway is increasing that knowledge. The pathway will be piloted at Keck Hospital of USC but the team hopes it will be adapted throughout the entire medical system.

The team says being part of the leadership academy was an invaluable experience and afforded them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Wong said HLA brings in health care leaders from organizations across the U.S. to address topics that are timely, relevant and can be put into practice.

“The Healthcare Leadership Academy gave me an opportunity to work outside of nursing with physicians and other staff that I wouldn’t normally get to work with,” Schuch said.

— L. Alexis Young