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AdventHealth’s chief learning officer draws on her background in academia to help employees grow

Lamata Mitchell says she wants employees to understand they’re “more than a cog in the wheel.”
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A hospital building is pictured with the name AdventHealth.

3 min read

As the first-ever chief learning officer for AdventHealth, Lamata Mitchell is focused on making education accessible for nearly 90,000 employees across the healthcare company, which comprises 51 hospitals and hundreds of care sites across nine states.

“It is both exhilarating and some days a little frightening,” Mitchell said of the role, which she took on in March of last year. While Mitchell didn’t have experience working in healthcare when she was hired, she’d held several learning-focused roles in academia, most recently at Pima Community College in Tucson, where she was VP of instruction and academic operations, then vice provost.

Mitchell joined AdventHealth at a time when many hospitals were struggling to hang onto talent. More than 4 million workers left healthcare in the first eight months of 2022, representing about 20% of the entire workforce. She told HR Brew she believes learning & development investments will not only better prepare AdventHealth employees to take on new jobs, but also give them a reason to stay at the company.

Creating career pathways. Mitchell said her previous experience in academia has informed how she approaches her work on L&D with AdventHealth.

“What I would hear from students is, ‘I want to work somewhere that not only hears my voice, but allows me to continue to grow,’” she said. Now, in developing education offerings for AdventHealth employees, she seeks to make sure they’re seen as “more than a cog in the wheel” and develop a growth mindset.

Currently, AdventHealth offers learning opportunities through a university, leadership institute, and learning network. Employees can also receive tuition reimbursement for 20 healthcare certificates they can earn from its university. Though these offerings predate Mitchell, she’s been involved with the implementation plan for the certificates, as well as making sure learning opportunities are accessible on mobile platforms

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Part of Mitchell’s job is to evaluate the current needs of the healthcare industry, anticipating future demand for roles such as surgical techs, nurses, or medical assistants.

“I'd like to be more proactive in what we do,” she said. “And that comes from my background in higher education—knowing the way that things are moving so that you ensure there is a trained workforce that is ready to step into those roles, as they appear.”

The value of L&D. When companies cut learning & development spending, “they tend to see that that is when that turnover increases, because people are burned out,” Mitchell said. “There's no opportunity to grow.”

She said AdventHealth has seen employee learning programs positively affecting employee retention. In 2022, AdventHealth hired 7,652 registered nurses, and voluntary monthly turnover of nurses reduced by 50% from the year prior, according to Dixie Tate, a media relations specialist with the company.

Mitchell also described a positive sense of morale among employees who see a pathway for growth at AdventHealth. She recalled speaking to an employee with one of AdventHealth’s cafeterias who was interested in becoming a medical assistant, but hadn’t been able to pursue that career.

Upon learning about AdventHealth’s offerings, “she signed up immediately for the certificate in medical assistance,” Mitchell said. “Every time I see her there's just a smile on her face…When she gets a certificate, she can stay here. She has a place within this organization.”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.