The best companies don't cut back on training when times are tough.
BayCare teamed up with St. Petersburg College to create a weekend and evening nursing program. Above (from left): Nursing students Joanna DeBella, Cheryl Cassel and Lisa Wooten with nursing instructor Jeff Briggs at Mease Countryside Hospital. [Photo: BayCare]
When BayCare Health System (No. 22 Large), the largest community-based healthcare system in the Tampa Bay area, was grappling with a nursing shortage several years ago, company executives turned to their local community college for help. Like most schools with nursing programs, St. Petersburg College had a long waiting list of qualified applicants that it couldn’t immediately accommodate because of a shortage of nursing faculty. To help expand enrollment, the college teamed up with BayCare, which operates 10 hospitals and 31 ambulatory/outpatient centers, to create a weekend and evening nursing program that tapped BayCare facilities and staff for both classroom training and clinical experience.
The program has produced more than 100 RNs for BayCare. Craig Brethauer, vice president of team resources for BayCare, says the average age of a nurse at BayCare has dropped from 47 to 43. BayCare found the partnership with St. Petersburg College so successful that it partnered again with the college more recently to design a certificate program in healthcare informatics, an increasing area of importance as the medical community moves toward adopting electronic medical records. It will eventually evolve into a degree program, says Brethauer. The company, which provides its employees with up to $3,000 in tuition reimbursement annually, spent more than $2.5 million on tuition reimbursement last year. “Education is very important to us,” says Brethauer.
Most of the companies included in Florida Trend’s Best Companies To Work For invest significant time and resources on employee training and development. Brightway Insurance (No. 7 Small), PSS World Medical (No. 9 Large) and AppRiver (No. 4 Midsized), among others, have established dedicated learning/training centers that they call “universities” that are solely focused on employee education and development.
Ongoing training, or continuing education, is a large component of most companies’ training programs.
At ChappellRoberts (No. 11 Small), an advertising, branding, marketing and public relations agency in Tampa, each employee has a $500 professional development fund to create a self-guided, continuing education program. “There is nothing more important than investing in your team. We do that actively in good economic times and in bad. It’s very organic, very customized to the individual,” says Colleen Chappell, the firm’s president and CEO.
Victoria Stalls (center) conducts a training session at the Corporate and Community Training Institute at Indian River State College.
Jan Pagano, associate dean of the Corporate and Community Training Institute at Indian River State College, agrees that employee development programs are essential during slow economic times. “Eventually the economy will turn around. It’s a really great way to prepare and get yourselves ahead of the competition.”