Formation - Responding to the Signs of the Times: CHA Launches On-Demand Foundations Leadership Program

Fall 2022


Formation -Responding to the Signs of the Times -cPrior to the arrival of COVID-19, the use of digital learning programs was already on the rise. However with its dramatic uptick during the pandemic, stronger learning capabilities have emerged. At a time when many health care systems have moved to less in-person travel due to pandemic precautions and because of current fiscal pressures, these technological advancements can allow for more formation programs to be offered virtually.

There remains considerable agreement among those involved in this work that extended formation programs, especially at the senior leader level, must be face-to-face. But what about formation opportunities for other executives, board members, directors, managers and clinicians? Extending deep and meaningful opportunities is imperative to these team members as well to allow them to think about how their own calling and values align with that of their ministry. However, due to logistical and scheduling issues, investigating options for leaders introduces challenges. When exploring possibilities for this audience, we asked ourselves: Could CHA's Foundations of Catholic Health Care Leadership program be offered on demand?

Working with our current Ministry Formation Advisory Council, we set out to rethink and design an on-demand foundations program, based on the CHA Framework for Ministry Leadership. Using member expertise, we scripted and produced more than 50 videos, curated articles and reflection questions, and built a specialized platform to host all these materials in such a way as to offer the best possible user experience.

This effort came to fruition in CHA's "On-Demand Foundations of Catholic Health Care Leadership" program, an essential primer for new and current leaders in Catholic health care. Available on CHA's website, this program — which launched last month — complements CHA's live foundations program (titled "Foundations of Catholic Health Care Leadership") that is offered annually over eight weeks in late January to March. The initial feedback from inaugural participants has been incredibly positive, and we look forward to seeing how our members will both offer this learning experience to colleagues and use its resources for their existing formation programs.

The objective of the program remains the same: to deepen understanding of the pivotal role leaders play in carrying out the healing mission of Catholic health care in serving the needs of patients, families, communities and the common good. Accompanied by an organization's designated mission/formation conversation partner — who is invited during registration by the participant to join them throughout the eight- to 10-week program — enrollees take part in the program at their own pace integrating new content, engaging through reflective questions and building new leadership practices for their roles across the ministry. The program can be taken individually or with a group. It is organized into 11 sequential modules, each with an introductory overview. Modules are followed by reflection questions, and participants are encouraged to take notes in a provided journal as they move through the sections to deepen their learning and to help them complete assignments.

Each learning module of the program follows a similar structure and starts with an overview and reflection, followed by a combination of short videos and relevant articles, then culminates with an individual assignment for participants. The mission/formation conversation partner engages virtually or face-to-face with participants individually to expand and deepen the formation experience.

The modules are accessed through CHA's Ministry Formation web page, under "Resources," each one titled as follows: Vocation; Tradition; Spirituality; Catholic Social Teaching; Ethics; and Discernment. Each module begins with a reflection built on the following three stages: 1) Participants first pause and take a moment of silence, 2) listen carefully to the sacred words and then 3) share as appropriate. After each reflective moment, the modules will unfold in the following order:

Module 1: "The Vocation of Leadership in Catholic Health Care" focuses on what it means to be called to leadership in Catholic health care, specifically viewing our work as a vocation.

Module 2: "The Tradition of Catholic Health Care" examines what it means to be a "heritage bearer" in Catholic health care.

Modules 3 and 4: "Spirituality and Leadership" and "The Practice of Prayer" remind us of the centrality of spirituality and how each person is a dynamic union of body, mind and spirit.

Modules 5 and 6: "Catholic Social Teaching: Our Strong Foundation" and "Living Our Tradition" both center around the foundational belief of the Catholic tradition that each person is made in the image and likeness of God and the implications this has for the social conditions necessary for human flourishing.

Module 7: "The Foundations of Ethics in Catholic Health Care" includes a practical definition of ethics and a comprehensive introduction to how it is used in Catholic health care, from our everyday decisions to larger organizational ethical discernments.

Module 8: "Models of the Church: Spirit and Structure" highlights how it is crucial that as a leader in Catholic health care one has a clear knowledge of what Church is, and the capacity to articulate this to others.

Module 9: "Models of Sponsorship" demystifies the concept of sponsorship while situating it as a ministry of the church, both historically and presently.

Module 10: "Discernment" contrasts the differences between decision-making and discernment, highlighting how spiritual discipline and prayerful disposition are at the heart of discernment.

Module 11: "Leadership" helps participants identify a plan for ongoing development and formation as a ministry leader in Catholic health care.

Modules are led by a host of experts in each of their respective fields, creating a rich tapestry of knowledge from which participants can learn. We believe those who participate will find the content both engaging and challenging as they seek to connect their personal meaning with organizational mission and purpose.

While the concept of an on-demand formation program may have seemed like a far-reaching dream in the past, we are thrilled that we're finally arriving at this point. Formation is, and has always been, the heartbeat of the ministry, and that truth remains as we live in a world where in-person access becomes increasingly complicated. The ability to offer this program to our members anywhere and at any time is a gift, one that we hope will be instrumental in the formation of upcoming generations of Catholic health care leaders.

DIARMUID ROONEY, MSPsych, MTS, DSocAdmin, is senior director, ministry formation, at the Catholic Health Association, St. Louis.

For further details on CHA's On-Demand Foundations of Catholic Health Care Leadership program, including how to register, visit https://www.chausa.org/ministry-formation/resources/on-demand-foundations.

Formation -Responding to the Signs of the Times

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