May 2011

Clinical Leadership Council Begins with Formational Experience

In bringing clinical leaders from across CHI together on the new Clinical Leadership Council, Steve Moore, chief medical officer for CHI, and Kathy Sanford, chief nursing officer for CHI, considered the group's formational needs. "We know how important it is for council members to fully understand where CHI came from in order to help sustain and grow the ministry," said Moore. "We had just seen the 'Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America' exhibit, and that was the first time I truly understood the challenges that CHI's founding congregations overcame to establish the Catholic health ministry in the United States."

 "Most of our facilities no longer have sisters on site, but we have their legacy," said Sanford. "The richness of that legacy can help us carry the ministry forward."

Sanford and Moore decided to make the first meeting of the Clinical Leadership Council a formational experience by combining it with a visit to the Women & Spirit exhibit. Patrick Gaughan, vice president of CHI's Center for Leadership Formation and Organizational Development, along with Alan Bowman, vice president of ministry formation, agreed to facilitate a day of formation for the council members. The meeting took place in Dubuque, IA, where Women & Spirit was on display at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.

At the meeting, Peggy Martin, OP, senior vice president of governance for CHI, led a session on CHI's expectations for its leaders. "Sister Peggy spoke as a woman religious, as a member of one of CHI's founding congregations and as a member of the Steering Council that formed CHI," said Gaughan. "She explained that the founding congregations would expect today's CHI leaders to embrace change and take intelligent risks, as the sisters did, to make the ministry stronger."

Then, the group delved into Charisms, the collection of stories about the origins of CHI's founding congregations. From those stories, the group identified leadership characteristics and traits demonstrated by the sisters that are also essential to CHI today. "They literally and physically connected the characteristics of the sisters' leadership - humility, collaboration, risk-taking and fidelity to the Gospel - to CHI's core values, cultural attributes and leadership competencies," said Gaughan.

Sister Peggy also guided the group through the Women & Spirit exhibit. Later, the council members reflected on what the experience meant to them. "We all need to take time to remember how and why we were called to this work," said Sanford. "However health care may change, as we face future realities we must remember why we are here and that God is working through us."

"Formation is about deepening the understanding of why we do the work we do," said Gaughan. "The Clinical Leadership Council put their minds and hearts into understanding who they are, why they serve on the council, what the council must do and connecting their work to CHI's rich legacy. They have big challenges ahead, including the implementation of OneCare. Now, they have a shared formational experience from which they can advance the ministry into the future."