Assessing the Fellow, and the Fellowship

A comprehensive assessment plan involves both evaluating the fellow’s acquisition of competencies and evaluating the overall fellowship experience.

Assessing the Fellow

Fellowships are designed to foster the professional development of the new entrant into the healthcare management field. As such, effective feedback is critical for achieving developmental objectives. The organization's assessment and feedback system begins in the planning stage with the specification of competencies which the fellow is expected to gain through the fellowship experience. For example, one organization delineates the following competencies that fellows are expected to obtain:

  • Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of the healthcare industry and the components of the organization
  • Communicates information effectively using the appropriate level of judgment, accuracy, and courtesy with internal and external constituents
  • Exhibits accuracy, attention to detail, consistency, and ability to meet multiple deadlines in all work efforts
  • Demonstrates ability to synthesize information (quantitative/qualitative) and complete components of preliminary and final reports, including spreadsheets and financial analyses (if applicable)
  • Demonstrates ability to work independently and to collaborate in group settings
  • Exhibits a willingness to take on leadership and non-leadership roles and responsibilities
  • Possesses effective management skills
  • Demonstrates ability to make timely and effective executive decisions as a project leader

In addition to delineating overall competencies, fellows should have specific performance plans to guide their progress throughout the fellowship. At one organization, the administrative fellow works with the preceptor to create specific S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) for the fellowship. ACHE's Competencies Assessment Tool which is based on the Healthcare Leadership Alliance model, can also be the basis for establishing and assessing areas of growth for the fellow.

For fellowships involving rotations, the preceptor associated with each rotation is typically responsible for providing feedback to the fellow, both informally during the rotation and through a more formal process at the end of the rotation. Similarly, the internal clients for major project work that crosses departmental boundaries would be involved in the ongoing feedback process.

You can also specify that at the conclusion of each of the fellow's rotations, the preceptor and representative team members with whom the fellow worked complete an evaluation. The team members may share their feedback with the fellow or submit the evaluation directly to the fellowship preceptor. The results of the evaluations can then be used by the preceptor and other executives as a coaching tool throughout the fellowship. When the number of evaluations reaches a critical mass, the fellow can review their blinded evaluation forms.

Assessing the Fellowship

Just as individual fellows are evaluated, it is important to assess the fellowship program itself. One organization has fellows complete a written evaluation of the program at the end of the training year. The composite results of those evaluations are then shared with the board and other leaders. In addition to evaluations at the end of the fellowship, many organizations also include an evaluation of each rotation, as well as other structured aspects of the fellowship experience. A commitment to assessing and improving the fellowship can be an important message to the fellow in terms of reinforcing concepts of continuous improvement.