Build a Pipeline of Future Leaders: Tips for Healthcare Organizations


What if your healthcare organization could not only create a plan to retain more millennials as employees, but could hook them before they even graduate from school? Here’s how one healthcare system is doing it.

It’s not easy for healthcare organizations to retain talented millennial employees. By the time they hit age 35, 25% of these professionals will have five or more jobs, according to a 2014 CareerBuilder survey.

What if your organization could not only create a plan to retain more of millennials as employees, but could hook them before they even graduate from school?

That’s what Bon Secours Health System, a nonprofit Catholic health system with 19 acute-care hospitals and other facilities, is doing. Since 2003, the Marriottsville, Maryland-based health system has recruited graduate students from 20 colleges across the country in masters’ programs in health administration, business administration, and public health. Graduate students from these universities participate in the health system’s one-year administrative residency, and recent graduates participate in its fellowship program.

The goal is to build a good pipeline for leadership talent and increase diversity, says Stephanie Davidson, director of talent strategy and development.

How it works

Program participants, who work in full-time roles and receive compensation, are paired with a senior executive within the health system called a preceptor. Participants are also paired with a “buddy” who helps them navigate more mundane matters such as organizational structure and how the health system functions.

The structure of a participant’s year is tailored around their interests, says Jennifer Pitts, program manager of talent readiness.

Senior leaders and executive leaders at the health system’s local hospitals help with recruitment efforts. “Humility and resiliency” are two qualities the health system seeks out in applicants, says Pitts. “Humility is the understanding that you don’t know everything yet, but you’re willing to share and learn, and take part in back-and-forth.”

One participant’s experience

Shefali Chudgar, director of performance management at Bon Secours St. Francis in Greenville, South Carolina, started working at the health system as an intern during her MHA program at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008. She was a 2011 to 2012 participant in the residency program. Chudgar’s co-preceptors were Richard Statuto, president and CEO, and Timothy Davis, executive vice president and chief administrative officer. During her residency, she attended executive team meetings and board meetings, traveled with Davis, and attended an industry conference. She also performed project management and analysis for various health system initiatives and took notes during meetings.

“There was a lot of exposure, which was fantastic,” says Chudgar. “You usually don’t get that kind of exposure, definitely not at the corporate level … I really got a unique opportunity to see how strategy is formed and then how it’s disseminated to local markets.”

Chudgar now serves as a buddy to the resident or fellow assigned to her hospital.


Aine Cryts is a writer based in Boston.

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