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Job-seekers: How do you show an employer on your resume that you’re a critical thinker?
Hiring-managers: Can you determine from an interview if your candidate is empathetic? Resilient through change? Collaborative with diverse teams?

These so-called twenty-first century skills, once known as “soft skills,” are critical to our future success at Northern Light Health. More than ever, we work cohesively as one large team of 12,000-plus employees to deliver better healthcare to Maine people. This means we need to find the right people with these abilities, but spotting these skills using a traditional employment application can be tricky.

“We have to find ways to not only attract new employees or talent, but we need to make sure the talent is the right fit,” shared Elizabeth Keenan, MBA, SHRM-CP, recruiter for Northern Light Health Talent Acquisition. “So, we became involved in this project with Education Design Lab through our partnership with the University of Maine.”

This fall, Northern Light Health was selected to be a part of #TeeUpTheSkills, a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind national initiative that brings schools and employers together to understand how to close an identified “skills gap” and improve hiring practices. This pilot program is a partnership among the University of Maine, Bangor Savings Bank, and Education Design Lab, a national leader in the design and implementation of new learning models. Together, they will help students obtain certifications for the most in-demand yet hard-to-quantify skills such as initiative, creative problem solving, empathy, communication, and resilience.

“What these students are doing is a series of tasks or projects to prove they have gained the skills that go beyond the technical requirements for a particular job,” Elizabeth explained. In return, students will then earn “digital badges,” as they may have in their youth in Boy or Girl Scouts for mastering a skill. Digital badges are a concrete way to demonstrate knowledge and can be shared through social media profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Joanna Morrison, SHRM-SCP, director of Northern Light Health Talent Acquisition, said these badges also greatly help employers. “Hiring can get complicated. By using these digital badges, hiring managers will easily be able to identify and separate students with the right skills from other applicants.” Joanna’s team is currently developing a plan to translate these digital badges onto traditional resumes, something many employers, including Northern Light Health, still rely on to find new talent.    

The #TeeUpTheSkills program is voluntary for students and Elizabeth sees that as an opportunity to also identify students who show the initiative to take these classes. “We have a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing at Northern Light Health. This program starts that culture before these students are even our employees.” Joanna added, “It’s relationship building with these students and telling them we are a place they can continue to develop their skills.” 

While still in its early stages, #TeeUpTheSkills shows promise and Elizabeth believes it has potential to better our system. “At the end of the day, the people we hire are taking care of our family, our friends. It will be compelling to see how these students, who have gone the extra mile and focused on communication and empathy, will have an effect on patient care at Northern Light Health.” 

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Food for thought

alt-ed-harvest-03.jpgMore children in the Sebasticook Valley region have access to nutritious food options throughout the year thanks to a two-year grant provided by Kohl’s and awarded to Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital. The grant aims to increase the number of students who receive food security resources in Penobscot and Somerset counties by September 2019.

“We have been pleased with what we have been able to accomplish in the first year after receiving this grant,” said Sherry Tardy, director of business development for Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital. “Thanks to this generosity, we have been able to create more options for food insecure youth, as well as strengthen existing partnerships.”

Some programs that have been funded in just the first year include starting food pantries at Warsaw Middle School, Nokomis High School, and Sebasticook Valley Middle School; partnering with four local farms to create a food voucher program for students; packing and delivering 400 backpacks to area schools at Thanksgiving, Christmas, February vacation, and April vacation with food; as well as establishing community gardens and food education classes at area schools.

Sharon Kimball, community health grants specialist at Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital, shares that the momentum is anticipated to continue into this next year of the grant program. “In year two, we will continue to support area schools with food pantries, greenhouses, and gardens, in an effort to create additional sustainable food streams for the students.”

For more information about this grant, visit or

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Speaking of your health record

DSC_0905.JPGThe least exciting part of any job is the paperwork—just ask a healthcare provider. One visit to the hospital can result in pages of documentation, notes written by the clinical staff about you and your treatment while in our care. Imagine a health system that found a faster, better way to get those important notes into your record, freeing providers to get back to doing what they do best: caring for our patients.
We recently introduced a new clinical enhancement, a systemwide transcription software called Fluency Direct. It is a speech recognition tool that works with electronic health records (EHR) to quickly translate speech—known as dictation—into writing directly into the patient’s record. Our providers have been learning to use this tool while also transitioning to our new systemwide single EHR.
“I just transitioned to Cerner this week, and I am so glad I did the training and at least basically mastered Fluency Direct ahead of this change. Learning too many new things at one time is not my best mode,” said Laura Santilli, PhD, who has been with Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center for 26 years. “An advantage with Fluency Direct in Cerner, that I did not have in Centricity, is the ability to cut and paste directly out of Microsoft Word, which also means I can post my own reports, versus needing a support staff person to do that.”
Reassured by her training instructor that she probably wouldn’t speak too quickly for Fluency Direct, Dr. Santilli found the change was still daunting. But, the software’s ability to learn a user’s voice and choice of words made it easier each time. Providers can create their own list of commands to do things like insert tables and use replacements under abbreviations. “What I most like is being able to talk quickly with Fluency Direct. The overall process gives me much more control over the time to finalize a report, I do not need to wait for the transcription before I can edit. The timeliness for receiving reports is a big benefit for our patients, as it can have implications on their ability to access services in schools and in the community.”