Last week, several of Episcopal Retirement Services’ best and brightest young professionals attended the 12th annual Bold Fusion conference — the largest yearly gathering of young professionals (YPs) in the Tristate region.
The conference is designed to help young professionals network, discuss new ideas in their fields, learn from each other and connect with the community at large. It is hosted by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, as part of its Harnessing Young Professional Energy (HYPE) initiative.The event is similar to other idea-curating and incubating conferences, such as TED or Austin’s SxSW, although it is specifically geared toward YPs in this region. This year’s installment of Bold Fusion was held at the Jack Cincinnati Casino downtown and included keynote speaker Chitra Anand, a former Microsoft PR executive-turned-marketing guru.
“Our current health care system is ill equipped to provide the optimal care experience for patients with multiple chronic conditions or with functional limitations and disabilities.”
ERS has a newly-formed YP group. Its strategic goal, said Molly deJesus, the Manager of Talent Acquisition at ERS, is to celebrate, engage and develop its talented and highly skilled group of Young Professionals and:
Leverage a trend in the marketplace to identify and engage the YP staff in the organization;
Foster internal networking and community building;
Create opportunities to deepen understanding and connection to mission and vision;
Engage through service opportunities and cross functional team building;
Communicate through an ongoing dialogue to gain a new perspective from YP members;
Grow YP professional staff, engagement and exposure of future leaders.
And members of that group were the representatives we sent to Bold Fusion this year.
Turning YPs on to senior care
Many young professionals and up-and-coming college students might think about health care as a promising field. But we wonder how many of them think specifically about senior care?
We know that demand for senior care is on pace to outstrip the nation’s ability to supply it in the coming decade, unless more providers enter the market.
“We are not prepared as a nation. We are facing a crisis,” Dr. Heather Whitson, associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, told US News & World Report last year. “Our current health care system is ill equipped to provide the optimal care experience for patients with multiple chronic conditions or with functional limitations and disabilities.”
As a provider of geriatric care, ERS is faced with the monumental tasks of, not only meeting our residents’ and community beneficiaries’ needs, but recruiting and retaining enough staff to continuing providing and extending excellent care as the Baby Boom generation reaches peak maturity over the next 10 years.
In sending members of our organization’s YP group to Bold Fusion, we hoped they would help to spread the word to other young professionals about the rewarding opportunities available in a career providing retirement care.
And we hoped that they would bring fresh perspectives — from peers, from other professions, from speakers — back to enrich our own organizational outlook. They certainly did.
Today, we thought it might be interesting to share our attendees’ thoughts on their careers in senior care, in their own words.
Bringing together younger staffers from across our system
As you might imagine, across a regionally-based care system like ours, it can be hard for staffers to network even within the organization.
“[ERS’ YP group] formed in order to invest in and grow young professionals, so that there is a higher probability of retaining them,” said Erica Carlson, our Talent Acquisition Partner and herself a member of the group.
“Since we all work at different locations, the goal is to have a place where the young professionals can meet, get to know each other and make an impact on the organization as well as within the community,” she explained.
Rick Wilson, ERS’ Annual Fund and Communications Manager, noted that the YP group has a strong role to play in developing our organization’s next group of leaders. But it also helps our younger staffers to acclimate.
“At times, I have found myself envious at friends who have lots of co-workers their own age,” said James Fisk, our Director of Wellness. “It’s really cool to start seeing that more and more people around my age are finding success within the ever expanding roles of ERS.”
Our residents help our YPs to bridge the generation gap — and challenge preconceptions
“One thing that I have learned since I began my work at ERS is how to slow down and be a better listener,” Fisk said. “The world we live in today is so fast paced, and some of the best parts of my day are when I can give my undivided attention to a resident willing to share a thought, story, or even a joke.”
Residents don’t always do the expected, either. Many of them surprise our newest staffers with their interests, their activities and their life stories.
“I think the fact that Dr. [Henry] Heimlich got to use the Heimlich Maneuver to save another resident’s life is pretty amazing,” Wilson said. “We also had a 93-year-old that rappelled off a 10-story building to raise money for Affordable Living. The same resident is an artist, author and a firewalker.”
Are you a young professional interested in senior health care? We need you.
“I find working in healthcare with retirement-aged adults to be very challenging and rewarding,” Fisk said, noting that the industry has changed tremendously just during his lifetime.
“I can remember visiting my great aunt at a nursing home when I was in grade school,” he remembered. The care he saw then — institutionalized and coldly clinical — seems dated and obsolete compared to the person-centered, dignified care residents receive at Deupree House and Marjorie P. Lee. And he’s proud that he’s able to provide care that enriches the lives of our residents.
We need more young professionals to make that care possible, Wilson said.