At Hôpital Montfort continuing education has its dedicated centre

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Hôpital Montfort, a 289-bed university teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Ottawa, delivers short-term primary and secondary health care in French and English to over 1.2 million residents of Eastern Ontario. Montfort is the only Francophone teaching health care institution in Ontario.

In 2010, we decided to focus and coordinate all of our activities, which led to the creation of a dedicated in-house centre. We called it Prométhée – from the ancient Greece myth of Prometheus, who brought the knowledge of fire to humans. Fast forward to 2014 and our young Prométhée has been shortlisted by the Institute of Public Administration Canada for the IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Awards in the Health Care Organization category.

Hospitals are complex organisations and we quickly found that a centre like Prométhée is crucial. Delivering high quality care not only requires participation of many very skillful people, but also their collaboration of very skillful teams who share a deep culture of compassion and dedication. Health care professionals also need to apply rigorous norms, protocols and regulations. This can only be achieved with a strong educational process.

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Everyone considers education to be an important piece of the puzzle in day-to-day operations, however most hospitals continue to educate staff through several and sometimes poorly coordinated bodies. Examples where doctors will only teach other doctors and nurses will only educate other nurses are common. Other departments such as Human resources, Planning and development as well as Quality management might also create their own training programs.

Despite the hard work involved, this type of education is done in silos and therefore limits the capacity to act as an organic and adaptive body. Prométhée, our centre for continuing professional development, provided the answer to this challenge.

In 2010, when we started looking for a model to guide our planning process, we could not find anything in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada that compared to what we envisioned. Internationally, we found two significant models: one in Florida and the other in Switzerland.

We also held many conversations with leaders in health education and all of them talked about the impact of poor coordination between medical and nursing educations. They complained about the fragmentation of general training and employee orientation. In their mind, a deep transformation within health care sector was needed.

Tradition, as much as internal competition, promotes the “silos” approach to continuing education; it took a lot of courage and determination to break the mold.

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We wanted a unique centre responsible for all learning activities from the general orientation of new employees to seminars aimed at improving leadership skills, in addition to providing nursing and medical continuing education, without forgetting any mandatory trainings. This centre would become a place for everyone to learn together.

Strong commitment and continued support from the senior management team was essential as everyone played a crucial role.

Today, medical specialists and advanced practice nurses work together with education specialists to develop curriculums; our HR people or our infection control team collaborate to develop new scenarios for simulation and to design nurses’ education sessions as well as web-based modules.

It was decided that the program must be geared toward inter-professional continuing development and must also integrate adverse and near-miss events reported to our hospital’s quality group as the starting point of new simulation’s scenarios.

As an example, Prométhée recently developed a web-based learning module to explain how everyone in the organisation should welcome patients, their families, and internal clients. At the same time, the module also promotes good practices around hand hygiene and the double identification of patients.

We attained major milestones during our journey:

  • Coordination of the general orientation for new employees as well as the nursing orientation;
  • Creation of an award-winning simulation lab;
  • Development of our Leadership Institute, IDEAL, a major initiative in our organisational transformation process.

Each one of these milestones was accomplished with the collaboration of all the stakeholders involved.

Prométhée is funded by the transfer of the training budgets from all the other sectors and investing more money in educational expertise, new technologies such as high fidelity androids, and spaces adapted for experiential learning. As an organisation, we decided to commit almost 2% of our total budget into professional continuing development, even under tight financial circumstances. Through the years, a new level of adaptability and responsiveness has been reached. New training can be developed and implemented quickly. For example, in less than two months during the summer of 2014, more than 200 professionals from the Emergency Department and the Mental Health Program were able to train toward a certification on Violent Behavior Management. This shows how better educational planning can insure an appropriate flow of knowledge, at the right time for the right people.

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External recognition received by Prométhée since its launch, less than five years ago, include the purchase of online modules and in-class sessions by other health organizations. The Centre’s simulation lab received a five-year accreditation from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) – the youngest entity to receive the highest level of accreditation issued by the RCPSC. Visitors from Accreditation Canada highlighted Prométhée as a strong feature of the hospital before granting us an Accreditation with exemplary standing.The Government of Ontario also asked for Prométhée’s team expertise for the translation and adaptation of learning content.

We are proud of Prométhée’s latest achievement: being shortlisted for a 2014 IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Awards. The award recognizes organizations that have demonstrated outstanding leadership by taking bold steps to improve Canada, through advancement in public policy and management.

The capacity of other health care organizations to use the same track depends greatly on their will to adopt this emerging vision. The first outcomes of Prométhée show how powerful a dedicated continuing education centre can be, even if it takes courage to challenge traditional methods, to break structural silos and to create a strong and empowering structure.