Ochsner Today: Diverse, Inclusive and

Ochsner physicians Shontell Thomas, MD, Sheena Pullman, MD, Juan Carlos Torres, MD and John McCrossen, MD
Ochsner Resource Groups
now include nearly 2,600 employees,
more than 10% of our workforce.

We strive to be a healthcare system that puts people first and serves others with compassion. Ochsner can’t achieve that goal unless we foster a workplace culture that is diverse and inclusive and encourages every employee to bring their whole selves to work every day. That’s why we’ve established best practices that embrace diversity and inclusion throughout our health system as we work to change and save lives. We’re developing a strong community model based on diversity, social and economic equality, respect and a sense of purpose and responsibility.

Playing a central role in this effort are our Ochsner Resource Groups (ORGs). Launched in 2017, they have rapidly increased in number and employee participation. Our ORGs now include nearly 2,600 employees, more than 10% of our workforce. Women and men in these ORGs are united around issues that matter to them, from gender and racial bias to what it means to be a young professional or a member of the armed forces.

Although ORGs are still relatively new, the contributions they are making are both exciting and meaningful. ABLE, our African-American ORG, has been instrumental in community outreach efforts to the historic Shrewsbury neighborhood in Jefferson Parish. ABLE members helped create a new community garden, and members participated in our Medical Assistant (MA) Shrewsbury training program, which opens the door of opportunity in healthcare roles to individuals from underserved communities. The Vet Force 1 ORG introduced “Code Red, White and Blue” across our hospitals, a program to honor and recognize any military member who passes away while in our care, and the group has also been active in supporting veterans in need in our community. Ochsner Pride, the LGBTQ resource group, has focused its efforts on educating health professionals about the health disparities that exist for the more than 20,000 older LGBTQ people living in the Greater New Orleans Area.

ORGs not only provide an opportunity for team members to rally around common interests and create impactful programs in our community, but they also foster increased employee engagement. In our most recent engagement survey, employees who are also ORG members report active engagement scores that are four percentage points higher than the already high levels found systemwide.

New Opportunities to Enhance Inclusion

We believe that in healthcare, there has not been enough focus or training to help team members recognize our own implicit bias – the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. We recognize there’s more we can do to improve our interpersonal skills and enhance understanding, so we’re challenging ourselves to make our culture even more inclusive. In 2018, we began to develop a comprehensive program to address unconscious bias, which we will address through new learning opportunities for healthcare professionals at all levels.