POD graduates are part of the next generation of health care professionals at Northern Light Health working toward improving the patient experience.

BANGOR — For the past five years, Husson University has been helping to educate Northern Light Health employees through their Professional and Organizational Development program. On Aug. 23 Husson celebrated a new class of POD graduates as part of a Zoom educational event with participating Northern Light employees. 

“The POD program is offered to Northern Light Health employees in an effort to enhance their business acumen and grow their leadership skills,” said Dr. Marie Hansen, dean of the College of Business at Husson University. “Northern Light Health employees who complete this program can convert this education into college credit. That saves them time, effort and money if they are working toward a degree.”

Tara Webb, a phlebotomist with Northern Light Laboratories/Affiliated Laboratories was one of the students who completed the POD program. Her POD credits are being counted as electives toward an online psychology degree at Husson University. “Getting college credit for my POD is making a bachelor of science in psychology degree more affordable and accessible. And going through the POD experience gave me the boost of confidence I needed to complete my psychology degree. Having an employer like Northern Light Health invest in my development means the world to me. Their belief in me is fueling my belief in myself.”

“At Northern Light Health, we are growing a healthcare organization that is designed to make health care work for those we serve; tailored to each individual’s needs. To accomplish this, it takes outstanding leadership throughout our organization,” said Timothy J. Dentry, president and CEO of Northern Light Health. “The learning environment and expertise provided by Husson University is a great example of close partnerships geared to the investment in the growth and development of the people of Northern Light.”

POD program participants consist of two groups. One is comprised of current leaders, while the other consists of employees interested in becoming leaders. Each group receives a curriculum designed to maximize their experience. The 12-month program includes online participation and group projects submitted by system senior leaders. Class members are drawn from a variety of functional areas throughout the 12,000-employee healthcare system.

“The POD program has made a tremendous difference in how I do my job,” said Amanda Bessey, a lead medical laboratory technician at Northern Light Health who’s interested in applying her POD credits toward a master of business administration with a concentration in healthcare management. “With each POD class, I gained insights and skills that I could immediately apply to my work. The quality of the professors at Husson University is exceptional. In addition to academic knowledge, they all had practical experience working in healthcare. I feel like they really understood the day-to-day realities of our business. As a result, the knowledge I gained through this program was both practical and relevant.”

Husson University College of Business Dean Marie Hansen feels that professional development programs like this benefit employees and organizations. “Professional development training helps organizations take their performance to the next level,” she said. “It’s also a valuable employee retention and recruitment tool. If an employee feels that his or her organization is willing to invest in them, they’re more likely to remain motivated and stay with the company.”

The next cohorts for the POD program started on Tuesday, Sept. 27 for current leaders and on Wednesday, Sept. 28 for employees interested in becoming leaders. These upcoming cohorts of students will be the first live students participating in face-to-face instruction since the pandemic. During the pandemic, cohorts were meeting via Zoom. This will be the sixth group of POD students to begin this program since its inception in 2017. Classes will be held at the Northern Light’s Cianchette Building on Whiting Hill Road in Brewer.

At Northern Light Health, we’re building a better approach to healthcare because we believe people deserve access to care that works for them. As an integrated health delivery system serving Maine, we’re raising the bar with no-nonsense solutions that are leading the way to a healthier future for our state. Our more than 12,000 team members are committed to making healthcare work for you: our patients, communities, and employees. To learn more, visit https://northernlighthealth.org/.

For more than 120 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent a superior value in higher education. The hallmarks of a Husson education include advanced knowledge delivered through quality educational programs. According to a recent analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit Husson.edu.