Learn-Do-Share approach drives the NIATx Change Leader Academy

Submitted by: 02/17/2015 by Maureen Fitzgerald
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Learn-Do-Share approach drives the NIATx Change Leader Academy

Amy McIlvaine, NIATx Educational Services Director, has been directing the NIATx Change Leader Academy since 2009. She’s coordinated more than 100 academies across the United States, working with behavioral health professionals from addiction treatment and mental health, as well as leaders from the criminal justice system, child welfare, and other areas of public health.

The purpose of the NIATx Change Leader Academy (CLA) has remained constant over the years: to teach the basics of the NIATx model in a format that attendees can apply in their work settings as soon as they get back to their offices. Yet, the NIATx focus on the customer and continuous improvement has also helped to change and improve the NIATx CLA.

“Our customers have told us that they really value hands-on training and appreciate that we let them practice what they are learning—they are better prepared to lead a project when they go back to the office,” says Amy. “That’s why in part that we require attendees to do a walk-through of one of their processes before attending the two-day in person workshop. We can start a group discussion and peer networking almost immediately as attendees share their walk-through results.”

Adds Amy, “We’re always tweaking the two-day in-person session to make it as lively as possible. We want attendees to experience what they’re learning, and that means getting up, moving about, and interacting with each other and with the instructors in activities like small group discussions, a variety of brain storming activities, and flowcharting work flows, all practical tools that they can use with their work teams.”

The Change Leader Academy has also evolved over the years to factor in different learning styles. “We build in activities that hit on a specific learning style—lots of images and written information for visual learners, brief modules of information sharing with Q&A sessions for auditory learners, and modules that involve activity for kinesthetic learners,” says Amy. 

The hands-on learning continues after the two-day in-person training session. An expert NIATx coach supports attendees for six months as they try out their new process improvement skills in their own organizations. “Regular coaching calls have proven to really help keep people on track, and the group gets a chance to share successes and challenges with each other,” comments Amy.

All attendees who complete the two-day workshop are eligible to earn up to 12 continuing education hours. Those who submit a completed change project earn certification as a NIATx Change Leader.

When NIATx Change Leader Academy first launched in 2006, its primary audience was professionals in addiction treatment agencies. But the success of the NIATx model has attracted Change Leader Academy attendees from a range of other areas, including mental health, criminal justice, aging and disabilities, and public health, to name just a few.

“This has allowed us to work with organizations on revising the four NIATx aims as needed to meet their specific process improvement goals,” say Amy. “But in the end, those four simple aims really can work for almost any organization in any area of human services.”

The next NIATx Change Leader Academy will be held in Madison, WI, on March 24-25, 2015. Register by February 27 and receive a $50.00 discount! For more information, contact Amy McIlvaine at amy.mcilvaine@chess.wisc.edu

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