Inclusion, Integration at Heart of Envision’s Leadership Education

By Andy Smith | AAPL
March 4, 2019

Envision Physician Services extended an existing relationship with AAPL to provide selected courses for a custom capstone program that meet its growing organizational needs.

With more than 25,000 physicians, 1,600 employees and 30 million patients at 780 hospitals, Envision Physician Services is one of the largest provider organizations in the United States, a distinction it gained after a merger with Amsurg Corp. doubled its size in 2016.

Until the merger, Envision, whose parent corporation is based in Nashville, Tennessee, had produced its own leadership and capstone projects, but such exponential growth inspired a desire to expand its leadership base and explore external learning and development sources to complement its program.

“Part of our promise to the hospitals that we staff and serve is that we bring in experienced leadership teams,” says Ann Louise Tisdale-Ramos, talent development leader at Envision. “Obviously, we had two large, successful organizations come together, so there was nothing but growth ahead.”

To meet its leadership needs, Envision extended an existing relationship with the American Association for Physician Leadership, citing the quality of AAPL’s faculty, its fresh perspectives as an external partner, and its business reputation. The agreement calls for AAPL to provide selected courses for a custom Envision capstone program that meet its organizational needs.

“It’s the idea that [AAPL faculty] are bringing in continual new ideas and a depth of expertise from a variety of different places to normalize, to a certain extent, what we’re experiencing, and to upscale our leaders with their experience,” Tisdale-Ramos says. “Envision’s providers know that the AAPL faculty are also people who are well-regarded in health care leadership.”

The Envision-Amsurg merger brought together thousands of physicians and health care professionals, including an array of specialists, which stirred discussion about how to handle subsequent leadership programs.

One question raised: Should the program integrate or segregate Envision’s lines of service in future cohorts? The decision: The classroom should mirror Envision’s vision of a collaborative, multispecialty workplace, so integrate them.

“Some folks would have maybe considered having, let’s say, emergency and hospitals separate from anesthesiology and radiology, but we thought it was a benefit to have all the lines of service together. That’s the goal: Have people talking together and learning from each other,” Tisdale-Ramos says, whether in classroom or hospital settings.

Inclusion of specialists was a good start, but leaders believed there was room to improve. Soon, nurse leaders and other advanced practice providers were invited to join the mix — an idea that, interestingly enough, came from neither nurse leaders nor advanced-practice providers.

“It was the physician leaders who helped lead the charge to bring nursing leaders and APPs together in the learning setting,” Tisdale-Ramos says. “It was that vision that we’re working alongside each other every single day, we’re at times seen as extensions of one another on the patient care continuum and, to that point, we want to make sure our leadership philosophy and skills are in lockstep.”

Envision’s first fully integrated cohort begins in March with 150 participants subdivided into emerging and advanced leaders. The first AAPL cohort of 144, which began in spring 2018 and ended in November with Envision’s internally produced capstone projects, is already bearing positive results.

Value is being realized in the confidence gained by participants — and by service opportunities to exercise their leadership skills on multidisciplinary committees and groups, including an initiative to grow the number of women in leadership roles.

Something of a surprise, Tisdale-Ramos says, is the number of participants wishing to apply their AAPL coursework toward a Certified Physician Executive credential.

“We had several providers in the program who had already started their CPE and now are motivated to finish it,” she says. “We have one member who has the CPE and still attended the program for the additional benefit of being with her peers and putting it in the context of Envision Physician Services. I think that that’s an important point to make, that you can do your CPE on its own but the way we found value in this program is by the interaction with all the peers.”

Envision cohorts already are beginning to tap the talent of this group, filling positions ranging from assistant medical directors to senior vice presidents.

“At the heart of our leadership development programs is the goal to provide the best clinical leaders to teams so they are equipped to give patients the best care possible,” Tisdale-Ramos says. “Take care of the clinical leader, to take care of the team, to take care of the patient. Simple.”

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