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Situation

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs over 412,000 people who provide services to Veterans through three main administrations: The Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration. This large and diverse workforce requires vital management and supervision in providing care and services to over 20,000,000 Veterans worldwide. These VA supervisors need effective leadership and managerial skills to ensure that the VA workforce provides the best service possible to the Veteran population.

Focus Areas
  • Creation of a technological platform to support all aspects of vASP execution and assessment
  • Development of all course content to be delivered over 12 weeks supporting six VA professional competencies
  • Training of facilitators to deliver the course content at weekly classes over the 12-week course
  • Full administrative and communication responsibility for 400 students yearly, including course completion for each student
  • Client management and course development with VA’s Healthcare Leadership Training Institute 

NEED:

The VA’s Healthcare Leadership Training Institute (HLTI) needed to transition its existing five-month, in-person, aspiring leaders course to a virtual, three-month online course for 400 students annually. All aspects of this course had to be built from the ground up, including the course platform and content, data accountability, faculty-student communications and the new condensed curriculum.

ACTION:

Aptive led the development of vASP through the creation of course content, development of a technological platform to house class execution and administration and streamlining of student communications in order to create a better environment for learning and success.

Creation of vASP Course Content: Prior to the beginning of the course, Aptive reviewed and revised the 12-week course curriculum, created weekly lesson plans and generated the educational content used in each week’s virtual classes. As part of this process, we revised three informational guides that explained the course to students, faculty and student sponsors. We then created and executed a virtual classroom environment comprised of 12 weeks of content aligned with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Leadership Competency Model and the VA Leadership Development Framework at the First Line Supervisor level. Each week includes instructional content followed by a reflection exercise and a weekly conference call scheduled, hosted and facilitated by Aptive trainers.

Development of the vASP Online Platform: Aptive created an online vASP Portal that is accessible within the VA firewall using MS PowerApps that serves as a single-point source for students and faculty to access educational content and course data. This portal streamlines a variety of logistical hurdles in the execution of weekly exercises and student homework, provides a launching pad for weekly meetings and enables participants to respond to and comment on others’ responses to reflection questions. VA stakeholders can also access real-time course completion data for students broken down by various administrations and offices within VA.

Streamlining of Student Experience: Due to the creation of new content and technological solutions for vASP, students are set up for success throughout the three-month experience. Aptive facilitators are accessible and in regular contact with students, able to concentrate on enriching the educational experience as opposed to dedicating valuable time to working through the minutia of course administration, manual submission of assignments and technical troubleshooting. Post-graduation, students and facilitators have stayed in touch through Aptive’s channels of communication, allowing Aptive’s team to further enrich the relationships and benefits students have received from attending vASP.

RESULTS AND BENEFITS:

The first virtual class during Aptive’s tenure with vASP had exceptional participation and satisfaction with 97% of students remaining active participants and 97.9% providing feedback on the first module of instruction. 98% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the vASP course was preparing them for future leadership roles within VA. Between 81-90% of students responded that the course has increased their knowledge in each of four VA competencies and 99% indicated that the program administrators and communications provided adequate support.

Graduates have lauded the program as vital in their career and supervisory-skills growth, as evidenced by this comment:

“The vASP experience was filled with weeks of valuable information, resources and conversations that equipped me as a rising aspiring leader. I was able to gain a vast amount of insight into the realm of being a highly effective and successful leader not based on standards but based on relationships, core values and servanthood. I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to be exposed and introduced to highly qualified professionals with a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and quality characteristics within my learning team and from our leader that were from all areas of VA. I have and will continue to recommend and encourage any VA professional that aspires to expand their knowledge of core competencies and progress in upward leadership responsibility to take advantage of the vASP opportunity whenever possible.”

Another vASP graduate said that the course was a springboard to greater opportunities and training within VA:

“As an outcome of my participation in vASP and gaining new leadership skills, my supervisor recommended that I take part in the Pain Management Opioid Prescription Safety (PMOPS) Committee aimed at improving safety of pain care for Veterans.”

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