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Mitch Edgeworth: Engaged employees deliver better care

Editor’s note : This is the third in a series of Q&A interviews with some of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s leaders to talk about why all staff members should take the VUMC Culture Survey: Pulse Edition, which is May 1-22, to help us build a stronger and better VUMC. 

. Mitch Edgeworth

As CEO of Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital (VUH) and Clinics, Mitch Edgeworth oversees a system that has nearly 600 licensed beds, 40,000 hospital admissions, 60,000 emergency room visits and 40,000 surgeries. His staff has much to be proud of — both in their service to our patients and to each other.   

We recently sat down with him to talk about how honest feedback is a valuable instrument to make work environment improvements, what engagement means to him and how his team used last year’s result to make their work area better.

VUMC: Why the survey is important to leadership and staff?

Mitch Edgeworth: There is no better way to understand how our employees feel than through their own thoughts and words. At VUH & Clinics, we strive toward a culture of transparency — one that creates an environment in which our employees can be their best selves. The work we do is not always easy, and equally, it is as rewarding as any job could be. Getting honest feedback through this assessment has proven to be a valuable instrument to inform leadership on what we can do better. There is much to be proud of and much to be done, and this tool provides direction on how to best serve and respond to the needs of our people.

VUMC: Why is it important that employee’s thoughts are heard?

Edgeworth: Our employees are the very people who create this special sense of place and community we have at VUMC. Ask yourself: What would VUMC be like, but for our people? Our people are the most important assets that we have as an organization; our people are responsible for the innovation that attracts top talent; our people are responsible for our success. As a leader, there is nothing more important than acknowledging the value that each team member brings to our work. Creating multiple channels through which staff can share their thoughts and feelings is important, and this method is another way that we can make appropriate decisions on behalf of the organization.

VUMC: What does engagement mean to you?

Edgeworth: Engagement has many layers and many moving parts. I’m an engineer by background so I enjoy backing up and looking at all of the parts working together, moving in the same direction, toward a common goal. Watching our work unfold and produce results is gratifying to me. Engagement in my mind means better. When we’re engaged, we’re better at our jobs and better at delivering the care that is synonymous with VUMC’s brand.

VUMC: What are some of the ways you have worked to sustain/improve last year’s results and what results have you seen from that work?

Edgeworth: As our work evolves, so will how we approach improvement. Growth in this space is fluid and it requires agility by leadership. Some tangible ways we’re tackling this include asking each area to implement actions based on the direct feedback given from our staff. We also continue to increase communications in VUH & Clinics through Town Halls, our annual Adult Enterprise update “Catalyst for Change”, The Spark e-newsletter, and executive rounding. Pulse survey results throughout the year indicate that we have made a difference in specifically targeted areas, and we hope that we have made positive results in all areas.