Blog Post
Blog Post

The Origin Story of the Relational Leadership Institute at OHSU: Part 2

June 27, 2019
Intend Health Strategies Blog
The Origin Story of the Relational Leadership Institute at OHSU: Part 2

With a determined party of two, Andrew and I set out to find the like-minded people we needed to help us build our local movement.

In launching the Relational Leadership Institute (RLI) at OHSU, we started with a series of one-to-one meetings, building a small core team of interprofessional, cross-generational individuals — Veronique Johnstone, Kelsey Priest, Marcel Tam, Teresa Turnbull, Andrew, and myself — who were all passionate about and invested in spreading ideals and practices to foster a relational culture and encourage upstream change.

In partnership with PCP, our core team built RLI from the ground up. We designed the learning experience not to replace, but complement the traditional models of leadership in healthcare, ones that taught us executive functioning and process improvement skills to draw from when necessary. These traditional, more authoritative approaches catering to individual leaders would be supplemented with more collaborative, engaging, and strengths-based techniques that fostered an environment where all team members would lead from where they stood.

Design, Impact, and What’s Next

Oregon Health & Sciences University[/caption]

From start to finish, RLI’s interactive curriculum is designed for participants to synthesize their learning and explore ways to incorporate what they have learned into their professional and personal lives. The science of story and the essential components of compelling storytelling is an essential ingredient to the secret sauce of RLI. Showing healthcare professionals across career stages how to use the power of story to help build a team of people who have shared values, shared interests, who are interested in making something better.

RLI represents a doubling down on the importance of teams and team dynamics. Our facilitators and trainers create a space that models the evidence-based practices of high-performing teams, including shared power, trust, vulnerability and psychological safety, in order to help participants experience team in a totally different light. Beyond being merely a vehicle of execution of a predetermined plan, RLI thrusts individuals across all stages of health professional training in a dynamic space of mutual learning, collaboration, and professional growth. For many, there’s an a-ha moment when they discover how their stories of self and of us fit in with the larger narrative of society.

It’s about that thread tying all these things together, so that we come to a point where we can create change that's outside of just ourselves. To build a community that's interested in working together on one thing to create change.

What’s next? We’ve just completed our fourth cohort of RLI at OHSU, and have reached 100 intergenerational and interprofessional participants over the last two years. Each cohort brings a special energy and perspective to the learning journey. With evaluation of the most recent cohort still to come, early results from our first three cohorts have been promising.

  • Over 98% of participants “agree” or “strongly agree” that they “plan to use skills they have learned in the future” and that they “have learned practical skills that will help them in their work,” with significant increases in self-assessed competence for all 11 of RLI’s core competencies.
  • These skills seem to have a lasting impact: 50% of RLI 1 and RLI 2 participants reporting that they were “moderately” or “fully” applying skills in one-to-one meetings and teaming. We assessed RLI 3 participants in well-being and sense of community scales, and noted significant increases in these measures for the cohort.

We are extremely glad that RLI is making an objective impact.

Small Steps Toward Healthcare Transformation

Above all, nothing is more rewarding than hearing individual stories that transcend these evaluation findings. Each individual’s perspective reveals that these relational practices are making a real, deep, and sustained impact on other people with outcomes such as:

  • Gaining a greater awareness and confidence of one’s own strengths and impact on others
  • Enhancing a previously challenging relationship by integrating a strength-based approach to a colleague
  • Starting a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program by first identifying shared values of colleagues and stakeholders
  • Launching a successful reproductive health equity campaign with a local community-based organization through narrative leadership and building relational power

This is more evidence of RLI participants applying these skills and seeing an immediate impact, representing how what RLI teaches complements their technical skills so well. As more people keep coming back, it’s also evidence that our participants feel a part of something larger than themselves, larger than their work through RLI — that the community built through RLI provides ongoing support to them beyond the clinic or classroom.

These are small steps toward healthcare transformation that I know can’t happen overnight. But I also know that the movement we started at OHSU is spreading. More leaders are talking about Relational Leadership within our own institution, and that new RLIs are beginning to take shape at other institutions across the country, building off of what we’ve learned at OHSU.

When I think about what’s needed to address the immense and complex issues facing healthcare today — the need to revitalize relationships, the need to address systems, and social change to advance health equity — I understand that the journey will be long. But based on what I’ve seen at RLI, I also know that we have the right people in the movement to one day get there.

And I’ll tell you a secret: there’s nothing more important than that.

Read more about the origin story of RLI at OHSU in "Part 1" on the Progress Notes blog.

Beginning at OHSU and beyond, RLI’s interactive curriculum is designed for participants to synthesize their learning and explore ways to incorporate what they've learned into their lives.

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"I have employed and used so much of my Relational Leadership experience and training from Intend Health to work."

Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHP

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

"In a healthcare system fraught with silos and computer screens, we need the human voice — a personal connection — now more than ever. That's the work of Intend Health."

Matt Lewis, PhD

Strategic Consultant

"The leadership skills, relationships, and perspective I have gained through my involvement in Intend Health have shaped the clinician, educator, and leader I am today."

Kyle Turner, PharmD

University of Utah

“Over 100 members of the UNC community have participated in our Relational Leadership Institutes… one word stands out for me in our evaluations — regardless of whether cohorts met in person or via Zoom — and that word is transformative."

Josh Hinson, MSW, LCSW

Assistant Professor University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

“Relational Leadership is what keeps me going. When I feel overwhelmed, stressed, down, I turn to members of the Relational Leadership community for support and resilience. We genuinely care about each other. We put ‘people first,’ truly, in our work together.”

Sarah Smithson, MD, MPH

Assistant Dean for Clinical Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

"This year, there's been so much change with COVID, with work, with everything. But I feel like the PCP Student Action Network has been that constant that I could always just count on. And my favorite part is that no matter how stressful work was, no matter how stressful the year was, whenever it came time for a PCP call or any PCP anything, it's always something that I look forward to."

Student Action Network Coach

"I think the collaborative work that Intend Health does to recruit bright, energized, resilient, diverse, and compassionate primary care physicians all over the country will be even more impactful. Intend Health's efforts will be a big part of the solution to mend our ailing primary care infrastructure in the coming years."

Peter Meyers, MD, MPH

Family Physician, Minnesota Community Care

“So far, my experience in this Relational Leadership course has been THE highlight of my leadership journey. This program exceeded my expectations. I have been sharing the content with my colleagues who are also inspired by it. Thank you for making the world a better place one Relational Leadership course at a time.”

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“A big impact that Intend Health has on me is it makes me more humble, kinder, more intuitive, a better listener, and I’ve been able to teach the skills I’ve learned to others. All of this makes me a better team member, and I think that that's integral to what Intend Health teaches — we need high functioning teams to provide the best care.”

Student Action Network Participant

“I participated in RLI [the Relational Leadership Institute]... and my world has not been the same since. The community that I’ve gained at RLI has been extraordinary. Being part of RLI means being connected to a diverse, interdisciplinary community that breaks down the walls that are typical in academic medicine.”

Katie Gradick, MD, MHS

University of Utah

"Thank you for inspiring a generation of future docs to become primary care physicians. I definitely felt like I had a community during medical school."

Shani Truong

Family Medicine Resident, UC Davis San Joaquin General Hospital

“Relational skills are particularly important right now because they’re rooted in people, with the fundamental assumption that we are good and have common values. If I can approach with unconditional positive regard and build in psychological safety, who knows what we can accomplish, despite the chaos around us.”

Lexy Kliewer, LCSW

Oregon Health and Science University

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