BJC HealthCare promotes lifelong learning
From an early age, Roxie Rikard knew she wanted to be a nurse, but she never quite found the time to pursue her nursing degree until she began working at BJC HealthCare.
“I always knew I wanted to be a nurse and checked into nursing when I was 18, but I was busy being a mom and then became a single mom and didn’t have time to pursue more education,” Rikard said.
Rikard started working at BJC’s Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital as a part-time registration assistant in 2001. She worked steadily up the ranks until she earned a management position overseeing the registration staff, but she still felt the tug to go into nursing. With the help and support of her children and BJC, Rikard began her journey to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing when she was 51 years old.
“That’s one thing I tell people all the time: You are never too old to continue your education and be what you want to be,” Rikard said.
BJC’s investment in the learning and development of its workforce goes back to its inception. According to Russell Hoffmann, the learning institute was all about spurring economic health for the state of Missouri. Thousands of employees have gone through the various programs since they were started.
“Our community’s needs for health care are dynamically changing, and we want to ensure that as a service to the community, our workforce can serve the needs of today and into tomorrow,” Hoffmann said. “The workforce must adapt to changing needs of health care and our patients, so we are investing in lifelong learners.”
In order to participate in the programs offered by BJC, an employee must have at least one year of full-time service. The options offered range from certificate programs all the way to master’s degree programs with tuition reimbursement. Hoffmann says learning opportunities are offered to everyone, from the front-line workers to highly technical positions to high-level executives.
Classes are offered in cooperation with several institutions of higher learning.
“I’ve taken too many courses and classes to count, but my favorite has been the cohort with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for my Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics,” said Syma Waxman, an Epic OpTime project manager with BJC. Waxman started working there 25 years ago as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit.
“People are our most important resource,” Hoffmann said. “These trainings and classes include technical and discipline skills, personal productivity and problem-solving skills. Things that every employee of BJC can benefit from. In health care, every day we experience challenging situations, and the workforce must be able to solve them.”
The wide range of education options can benefit just about anyone who works at BJC Healthcare. Besides pursuing degrees, employees can take classes on topics such as True Colors, Microsoft Office Suite programs, interview skills, résumé writing and conflict communications.
“If we support individuals growing their personal careers and invest in individuals, this supports an employee giving back to the community and contributing skills and abilities as well as supporting the health of that employee’s family,” Hoffmann said. “We want to ensure we are meeting and exceeding the needs of the community because the ultimate goal is to be good stewards of the community.”
Theresa Sieber went a different path for her continuing education through BJC. Hired in 2004, she began as a secretary with the infection control program. She immediately took advantage of the many programs offered, but in 2008 she began the Bridges to Bachelors Cohort program with Saint Louis University and she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies in March 2016. She currently serves as the operations supervisor of GI and endoscopy services, supervising the scheduling practices and processes for GI and endoscopy services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital and the Center for Advanced Medicine.
“I always joke that I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’m still not 100 percent certain,” Sieber said. “But I do know that I want to be a leader and help lead teams to success. The knowledge I have gained through my career here as well as the education I have received are the greatest benefits of all. I know that I will always be able to utilize the information that I have obtained and it will help me and others to continue moving forward.”
Roxie Rikard graduated with her nursing degree this May, and she gives a great deal of credit to her daughters and ultimately to the support system at BJC.
“BJC allowed me to achieve a lifetime goal, something I always wanted to do. They offered the programs and support necessary,” Rikard said. “I would still be in registration without these continuing education options, and that would be fine, but I love taking care of people.”