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Four GME coordinators complete leadership programs

In 2019, four GME coordinators from Penn State Health participated in the organization’s Emerging Leaders and Leadership Essentials development programs.

Throughout the year, they went to monthly three-hour sessions focused on enhancing their leadership skills and creating a capstone project with cohort members. The development programs include Penn State Health employees from all departments and locations. All graduates were honored Jan. 9, 2020, at the second annual Evening of Excellence held at the Hershey Theatre. Dr. Beth Herman, Director of the Office of Graduate Medical Education, and Dr. Terry Wolpaw, Vice Dean for Educational Affairs, were both in attendance to celebrate the participants’ accomplishments.

Jennifer Koser, C-TAGME

Senior GME Coordinator, Psychiatry
Leadership Essentials Development Program

Koser’s capstone project focused on the value of professional development in relation to the institutional strategic imperative of “investing in our people.” The project objective was to organize, standardize and develop consistency in educational opportunities across the Penn State Health system and to market and educate these growth opportunities to all of employees.

“I found the program to be valuable in networking with other supervisors and leadership within our health system and the reassurance that although we have different roles and specialties, we all face the same challenges and rewards. I found it ironic how frequently I encountered a situation and that same topic and the necessary resources to address it would be the focus of our next session. I have been able to implement several strategies and methods learned to both my own professional growth and toward facilitating the professional growth of my team, and even identified some areas to incorporate into professional development education for our trainees. Overall, it was a very educational and rewarding experience. Oh, and breakfasts were the bomb!”

Melissa Leota

GME Coordinator I, Emergency Medicine
Emerging Leaders Development Program

A group of five women are seen standing in a line, wearing dressy clothes.

Melissa Leota, center, is seen with her capstone group from her leadership program.

“Our capstone project was a ‘Mentorship Program for Environmental Health Services New Hires.’ Between those of us in my group who work in HR, clinical settings or administrative settings, we realized that we were always seeing new Environmental Health workers, and seeing postings for these jobs frequently. We got into researching and found that there was historical data that proved there has been a significant internal/external turnover of EHS workers within the first year of employment. We determined (through anonymous SurveyMonkey to EHS employees throughout the institution) that having a mentor or a program that specifically recognizes & promotes growth for EHS employees would give the department a smaller turnover rate… I feel that the Emerging Leaders was not only helpful for me and my future in potential leadership roles, but it also taught me a lot about myself, and how different personalities work together. I would recommend this program to anyone! I have found myself using a lot of the tools and action plans that were created throughout the course this past year.”

Jennifer Swierczynski, C-TAGME

Senior GME Coordinator, Anesthesiology
Emerging Leaders Development Program

A woman walks across a stage in dressy clothes, carrying an award.

Jennifer Swierczynski is seen receiving her Excellence Award.

Along with completing the Emerging Leadership Development Program, Swierczynski received an Excellence Award. One member of each cohort was peer-nominated and selected to receive the award. The recipients were selected based on behaviors in at least one of the following areas: collaboration, commitment, innovation, leadership and learning.

Her capstone focused on employee wellness and caring for the caregiver (second victim). They identified the need for collaborative resources across Penn State Health – specifically the needs related to outpatient hematology oncology clinics on three campuses (Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Health St. Joseph and Penn State Medical Gorup – Lime Spring). The Hershey Medical Center inpatient areas have established process or resources that can be shared across the enterprise.

“It was a great for networking and broadening your view of the enterprise – allowing me to think beyond GME and into my role within the organization. Excellent resources as a manager/leader. Definitely a time commitment to get the most out of the experience.”

Lauren Talhelm, C-TAGME

GME Coordinator II, Office of Graduate Medical Education
Emerging Leaders Development Program

Talhelm’s capstone also focused on the value of professional development for employees and increasing the awareness of opportunities. After surveying a group of more than 2,500 new employees and receiving around 800 responses, 94 percent of respondents said they were interested in professional development yet 74 percent stated they haven’t participated in professional development. The group suggested a revolving lock screen highlighting opportunities, a mentorship program, and a one-year anniversary email highlighting opportunities and follow-up with new employees and their manager.

“The most beneficial aspect of the development program was networking with employees from many different departments and locations. Even though our jobs were all very different, we seemed to all face similar issues. I also had the opportunity to learn a lot about what is being done across our health system. Each month our cohort leader gave everyone in the cohort the opportunity to share an accomplishment either in their professional or personal lives. It was great way to start the session and to celebrate each other!”

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