Novant Health: Healthy person, healthy team, healthy leaders

There was a noticeable shift in the culture of our organization. Before, the challenges of health care were rarely discussed openly, now they are, and clinicians will now step forward when concerned about a colleague.

Positive feedback from a participant

It was an experience of burnout in a physician leader that prompted Novant Health, a large integrated health system located in Charlotte, North Carolina, to launch an innovative well-being program for clinicians. After years of increasing administrative duties being added to his clinical work, Thomas Jenike, M.D., sought help from an executive coach. Finding that his professional and personal life turned around after six months of coaching, he created a program with his coach to serve others. The program’s premise is simple: lead the self, lead the team, and lead the organization. The Novant Leadership Development Program includes a three-day, off-site retreat that uses a group coaching model to improve work-life balance and personal leadership. Since 2013, more than 800 health care professionals, most of whom are physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician assistants, have completed the program. 

In addition, the organization offers a one-day resiliency coaching program for bedside nurses, in which almost 2,000 nurses in acute care facilities have participated. The resiliency program is now being offered to other health care professionals, such as physical therapists and pharmacists. Administrators also have access to one-on-one leadership coaching, which provides a safe space to talk about growth opportunities and organizational challenges in real time. 

The health system has invested more than $2 million into promoting and convening the programs. Hard-number results include an all-staff engagement ranking that increased from 41thpercentile in 2015 to 87thpercentile in 2018. Among physicians in the health system’s employed medical group, those numbers increased from the 62ndpercentile to the 92ndpercentile for engagement.

In addition, graduates of the leadership development program have launched innovative improvement projects at the health system, such as creating an electronic health record optimization team and a year-long orientation program for physicians that covers wellness, resiliency and empathic communication skills. According to Jenike, who is now chief human experience officer and senior vice president at Novant, the program reached a tipping point when about 300 health care providers had participated.

"I am so grateful to work in an organization that sees the value in their members and is willing to make an investment in us…I wish more employers would make the same investments into their team and give them permission to have the balance that our leadership allows for us – think of all the blood pressures going down and marriages back on track."

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