Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 10(1) January 2007 : 66-70.doi:10.12927/hcq..18651
Ideas at Work

Ombudsman for a Day: A Job Rotation Opportunity at the University Health Network

Sharon Rogers and Vasiliki Bakas


A major challenge for every business , regardless of sector, is recruiting and retaining a skilled and effective workforce. The challenge is even greater in healthcare since the need for specialized skills is combined with a need for human sensitivity and caring, often described as "the art and science of healthcare."  

The University Health Network (UHN), composed of the Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, is the largest teaching facility in Canada. UHN has been facing recruitment and retention challenges for several years and is always open to new recruitment and retention strategies. In order to determine what was meaningful to staff, UHN, under the auspices of its Human Resources Department, conducted an employee opinion survey (EOS Appreciative Inquiry Exercise, April 20, 2004).

Staff were asked what they found meaningful and important in the working environment, and they responded by identifying four specific areas: recognition, communication, workload management and learning environment. One area that was identified as a particularly good example of a successful "learning environment" strategy was the opportunity to participate in a job rotation in a department other than their own. In fact, the only department that had offered such an opportunity was the Patient Relations Department (Office of the Ombudsman), in 2002. UHN staff identified the patient relations job rotation opportunity as being an exemplar of outstanding "best practices." As a follow-up to the successful rotation opportunity in 2002, the Patient Relations Department reinstated the rotation in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. This article reviews the findings over this three- to four-year period.



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