Vidant Health Shares Success in Pulling Together Researchers Across Hospital Network

Vidant Health

Vidant Health is One of Three Finalists for ACRP's First Ever Innovation in Workforce Development Award

The camera pans to Tom Hanks or Jennifer Lawrence in the Academy Awards audience just as it’s announced they lost their Oscar bid. Dutifully acting like good sports in after-party interviews, they’ll say it was an honor just to be nominated.

Do they mean it? Who knows. But win, lose, or draw, nominees for ACRP’s Innovation in Workforce Development Award are genuinely excited about making the final cut.

While obviously hoping for a win, the team at one of the finalists is already happy. “We still can’t believe we are in the top three, but we are so excited to even be part of the last three,” says Shakira Henderson, senior administrator for CRG at Vidant Health.

The eight-hospital network in North Carolina is in the running for the award, in part, to help demonstrate the validity and success of its innovative program to pull researchers across the network together. To support the effort, network leaders developed an effective liaison program, a principal investigator (PI)–initiated program, and an internship program.

“We were able to implement all of this within a year’s timeframe,” explains Hollie Wooten, research specialist at Vidant. “I think that’s one of the things that really set us apart.”

ACRP/Avoca Awards & Recognition Ceremony: Celebrating Excellence in Clinical Research – Join us for a special evening celebration of individual and organizational excellence in clinical research on Friday, April 27 at ACRP 2018. We’re announcing winners of the first-ever ACRP’s Innovation in Workforce Development Award, the ACRP-Avoca CRO Quality Award (as selected by research sites), and the ACRP-Avoca Sponsor Quality Awards (as selected by research sites), while recognizing many others for their commitment to excellence in clinical research. View Event Details

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Vidant’s liaison program was designed to weave a representative into every single unit and department, Wooten says. They’re tackling the ambitious goal in three phases. They’re just wrapping up phase one by successfully integrating a representative into all 116 nursing units in the Vidant system. Representatives attend departmental meetings and set up a research and grant “corner” within each department.

Phase two will focus on non-nursing units. They’re eyeing a March launch, fueled by a new research nurse specialist who will act as liaison for all nursing units. Yet to come down the road, phase three will integrate Vidant’s entire seven-hospital network.

Wooten’s seeing benefits already. “When I first came here in May 2016, I met with leaders of all the different departments,” she explains. Many reported being interested in research, but they lacked support to participate in research projects.

It’s a different story today. “One thing that I have enjoyed seeing is that it’s not just nurses who are interested in research,” Wooten says. “We’re seeing so many other disciplines that are interested in research. The response has been great.”

Vidant has also seen the fruits of its PI-initiated program, says Henderson. Any team member who applies to become a researcher gets full support. Vidant is handling 25 or more consultations on research through its research support department each month, and has already been able to help get 80 projects off the ground in the past year. Many of the projects ultimately had a positive monetary impact on the bottom line and/or included important quality and safety benefits, Henderson adds.

Meanwhile, as a former company intern, Kari Beasley can speak to the importance of a more robust internship program. “I actually started off as the very first intern in 2016” before being hired as an employee, she says. Before she came onboard, Vidant lacked any kind of focused internship program, beyond simple outreach to high school volunteers. Beasley, now a research specialist, is part of the team that’s already transformed Vidant’s intern program into a vibrant center of activity.

Since 2017, the new internship program has drawn 10 active participants coming from a number of professional disciplines. “We’ve had pre-nursing, pre-health, pre-med, and administration,” Beasley explains. The internship program offers hands-on training designed to help the volunteers learn more about the research world. Via surveys and other tracing tools, Vidant can see that interns pump dollars back into the hospitals’ financial regime.

At the end of the day, Vidant doesn’t need an award to give it direction. “We’re in the business of making sure that our patients get the best value of quality care,” Henderson says.

Sure, it’d be fun to walk across the stage as the first-place winner. Still, Tom Hanks and Jennifer Lawrence remain pretty good actors even when they don’t take home a statue.

Author: Michael Causey