Employee Orientation Is Where Access-Focused-Institutions Might Start

How does a court or other legal institution refocus itself to ensure that its mission and day to day activities are turned towards serving the litigants, rather than towards maintaining the primary focus on the interests of the institution.

Surely one way is the way that new (and indeed existing) employees are told about the institution and the potential and the responsibilities of  joining the community.

So, many might find this letter, sent to all the employees of the Johns Hopkins Hospital system, as a model to “re-orient reorientation,” and thus the organization.  (Below, I make a couple of suggestions about how this approach might work out in the legal context.)


Dear Colleagues,

Patient- and family-centered care is one of the six pillars that form the foundation of the Johns Hopkins Medicine Strategic Plan. We are pleased to share that New Employee Orientation has been redesigned to focus on this strategic priority and on the definitions of our core values—be the best, be open, be a role model and be kind .  .  .  .

This has been an extraordinary effort. Over the last year, staff members met to identify important messages that support a positive patient- and family-centered experience. We appreciate the efforts of our leaders who guide the patient- and family-centered care pillar, and the collaborative work of our colleagues from service excellence, the Department of Human Resources, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, infection control, quality, safety and other groups that have been represented in the orientation.

We also partnered with the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality’s learning and development team to design a program that appeals to and engages adult learners. We will use videos, case studies, discussion and other facilitated interactions. Facilitators will engage new employees in conversations about what it means to work in a health care and hospital environment. Additionally, facilitators will have new employees who have experience in clinical and nonclinical positions help those new to health care understand the patient and family environment. They will learn our history and how they can contribute to delivering the promise of medicine in a patient- and family-centered way.

The result is an orientation that we believe represents a significant improvement in the way we introduce new staff members to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The first day begins with a welcome from senior leadership. With one facilitator leading the orientation in the morning and another in the afternoon, we will then cover methods to provide the best patient and family experience such as with excellent service and Language of Caring communication skills, practice inclusion, keep our patients and employees safe, protect everyone from infections, and meet all regulatory requirements.

The second day will address broader human relations-focused issues, such as benefits, employee engagement and performance management. .  .  .  .

Feel free to solicit feedback from your employees about the new employee orientation. We will update you on the feedback we receive in the coming weeks and months. Thank you for all you do for our staff members.

For courts, such an approach would be a good opportunity to make sure that staff understood both the obligations of neutrality, and the interrelated obligation of helpfulness.  One might post the orientation introduction to that the pbulci gets the message too.

For legal aid programs (traditionally defined) there might be special obligations in dealing with the fact that most people are turned away, rather than served.

I look forward to hearing from others of how legal institutions are thinking about staff orientation and mission change.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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