HR Leadership Session Focuses on Healthcare
By: Natasha Darby, Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, Ultimus Leverpoint

On Friday, October 9th we continued what will be the longest Capital Region Human Resources Leadership Program to date! Although temporarily paused due to COVID, we continued our journey in a remote environment exploring human resources in the healthcare industry. During this session, we had the opportunity to discuss some of the challenges and issues unique to healthcare and reviewed important human resource competencies that define operational excellence and business knowledge in the field.

We first had the opportunity to hear from a panel of expert human resource professionals in the healthcare industry including Karen Biehler, HR Director at OrthoNY, LLP, MaryBeth Goldstein, PHR, SHRM-CP, HR Director at Whitney Young Health and Tracey E. Meek, FACHE, MLHR, Assistant VP of HR at SUNY Empire State College (formerly Senior Director of Human Resources at Ellis Medicine).

We then had the opportunity to participate in an armchair discussion with healthcare human resources leader, Marcy Dreimiller, SPHR, Vice President of HR, Saratoga Hospital. It was fascinating to learn that Marcy began her career in the operations side of healthcare and then transitioned into her human resources role. The technical knowledge Marcy gained while working in the field provided a solid foundation for her future career in human resources. She described how this experience provided a level of relatability when working with employees. When approached with a challenge or issue, Marcy has a unique appreciation for the employee's perspective having served in a technical capacity in the past.

Although Marcy’s unique background and experience may not be possible for all HR professionals, a common theme throughout the day was the importance of becoming a strategic business partner. We discussed the importance of building deep, trusting relationships. A critical component of this, which Marcy and the panelists described, is to truly understand the business you support. Strategic HR partners are considered technical experts in the field and can speak the language of employee populations they support.

How do you become a strategic business partner you ask? We asked that very question when speaking to the expert panelists. They described the importance of job shadowing and seeking to understand when working with employees and management. Karen Biehler, HR Director, noted that her role at OrthoNY, LLP is her first experience in the healthcare industry and this approach has been crucial in successfully transitioning to the healthcare field. Not having previous experience in healthcare myself, this session was particularly interesting as panelists discussed some of the industry’s unique challenges and obstacles. Health care employers are competing for similar talent in a tough environment and finding creative solutions to engage, motivate, and retain employees has been critical in their success. Listening to the challenges facing these HR professionals and the creative solutions they have put in place was both inspirational and enlightening.

As our program continues into the final months, we reflect on the sessions, experiential and project work we have done over the course of the year. It has been a pleasure working alongside our peers, developing positive, long-term relationships, and expanding our knowledge across a variety of industries.

For those of you considering the CRHRA Leadership Program in the future, we would encourage you to reach out to your network and learn more about this amazing program!