Nurse Leader Mary Jo Jerde Challenges Clinicians to Ask, “What If?”
In 2008, UnitedHealth Group faced a concerning and escalating issue. Its nursing workforce was suffering from a high turnover rate of their newly hired nurses and low nurse engagement. Realizing that its nurses needed more resources to develop their skills and better understand the business of healthcare, UnitedHealth Group launched the Center for Nursing Advancement to help develop, retain and engage its nursing workforce.
From initially serving only 6,000 UnitedHealth Group nurses in 2008 to uniting over 23,000 nurses today, the Center for Nursing Advancement evolved to become the Center for Clinician Advancement, a team designed to support a workforce of over 42,000 nurses, pharmacists, social workers, behavioral health clinicians, advanced practice clinicians and physicians through developmental initiatives that help them navigate their professions.
The Johnson & Johnson Notes on Nursing team recently spoke with Mary Jo Jerde, MBA, BSN, RN, FAAN, senior vice president and leader of the Center for Clinician Advancement at UnitedHealth Group, to learn more about how she and her team are taking an innovative approach to clinician advancement through programs and resources that are constantly adapting to the needs of their workforce and inspiring them to take on some of healthcare’s greatest challenges.
One outstanding program we offer in conjunction with a leading academic institution is the Clinician Leader Executive Development program. The signature element in this program is a year-long immersion learning experience in leading change, including a “Shark Tank” experience for participants to advance their project ideas. Nurses are coming to us with renewed confidence and tremendous ideas backed by data on how to improve care and provide financial value to our health system.
Many of the programs and resources that are a part of the Center for Clinician Advancement were developed in partnership with managers, who understand the importance of empowering and retaining their staff. However, they weren’t sure how best to do so. Through the Center, we’re trying to provide forums to think big and provide the right tools to develop leadership skills, empowering nurses to be able to make things happen and drive changes in healthcare. Nurses are constantly asking themselves, “What if we changed this procedure?” or “What if we approached this differently?” UnitedHealth Group is answering the “What ifs” with a “We can do that” attitude.
 Center for Clinician Advancement. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/about/clinician-advancement.html
Also, the Center is always adapting and evolving. Every year we update our program offerings based on the needs of our clinicians, adding offerings that explore things such as change management, discussion groups with nurses in other businesses and navigating national healthcare topics. We believe that in order to innovate you have to listen. Therefore, we emphasize open communication and apply those learnings to our programs and resources.
(Pictured above are Patrick Borowicz, RN, Case Manager, Optum Population Health, Patricia OConnor, RN, MPA, CCM, Manager, Case Management, Optum Population Health, and Becky Faustgen, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist, UnitedHealthcare Pharmacy, of UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Clinician Advancement)