Archive for the ‘Development’ category

What’s Different About a Teenage Brain?

May 1st, 2011
Montogomery County MD band students

L-R: Senior Niraj Raju (trombone), junior Andrew Simmons (tuba) and senior Julia Maas (violin) of the Montgomery County, MD Youth Orchestra - http://www.mcyo.org

Back in the 1970’s, I made a discovery that seemed unique to me. As a young teacher, musician, band, orchestra and Jazz ensemble director, it was my unexpected pleasure to discover that junior high and middle school aged students had an unbelievable capacity to learn and to excel. This discovery was recently confirmed in an article which appeared in a special edition of U.S. News and World Report, “Secrets of Your Brain,” by Nancy Shute entitled, “How to Deploy the Amazing Power of  the Teen Brain.

Early on in my teaching career, I discovered a mystery of life that, until Nancy’s article, seemed rather extraordinary to me, but I had no scientific evidence to back it up. Before the use of MRI’s beginning in the 1990’s, it was impossible to know what nuanced changes were occurring in the brains of teenagers, but that is not the case today. Of course, the neurologists still don’t understand all of the myriad details of change that appear to be occurring, but they can make certain not so speculative statements about these changes. According to the article, what they found astonished them. The brain’s gray matter, which forms the bulk of the structure and processing capacity, grows gradually throughout childhood, peaks around age 12, and then furiously prunes underused neurons.

Because these changes begin in the back of the brain and move forward, sensory and motor skills mature first followed by the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for judgment and impulse control. According to the scientists at the NIH, the prefrontal and cortex isn’t done until the early 20’s or later in men. The following quote from the article, however, should be the basis for all of the arts education in the United States, “Neurons, like muscles, operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis: a teenager who studies piano three hours a day will end up with different brain wiring than someone who spends that same time shooting hoops or playing video games. “Eureka!”

 Grown-Up Brain - USNWR - Nick Jacobs, FACHE - HealingHospitals.com

When we consider that during the teenage years, emotion and passion also heighten attention and tramp down fear, teenagehood turns out to be the perfect time to master new challenges. According to Frances Jensen, a neurologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston, “They can do things now that will set them up later in life with an enhanced skill set.” Of course, the 70’s in semi-rural America did not harbor all of the challenges that we face now for our teenagers, but challenges did exist. What I had discovered in my work was by treating the teenagers more closely as peers than subservient children, while still maintaining control, by allowing them to work with you to select and enumerate their goals, and finally by encouraging them along the way, their passions and intensity would take the music and their performances to heights that would have seemed otherwise incomprehensible.

Music arranged for teenaged performing groups was typically watered down and lacked both emotion and challenge. Because of that, it was my choice to make musical scores available to them that would have been considered too mature, too challenging and too far beyond their comprehension. The trade off, however, was that we were careful never to let them hear any of those “too hard” descriptors. The results were stupefying. The kids worked endlessly and tirelessly to make sure these musical scores were mastered. Because their parents were, in many cases, second generation immigrants, they worked to ensure that the kids had: 1.) Plenty of sleep 2.) Healthy foods 3.) No drugs or alcohol.

The U.S. News article concluded with something that was instinctive to me: “Nature had a reason to give adolescents strong bodies, impulsive natures, and curious flexible minds.” It was the stuff from which scholars, great artists and future leaders were made, and to all of my former students who have been so incredibly successful…I hope you’ve tried to give your children these same experiences!

Nick Jacobs speaks to youth on the future of healthcare

Health 2.0 Leadership (1 of 2) from Nick Jacobs, FACHE on Vimeo.

Thinking at the Beach

August 13th, 2009

In January, my journey to create a new division for SunStone Consulting, LLC, began, and, with the economy in a deep slump, it appeared to be a journey fraught with almost insurmountable challenges.  How does one begin a new division during a time when most organizations were digging deeply into self-preservation mode?

Photo credit: Generation Y Travel
Outer Banks, NC | Photo credit: Generation Y Travel

The first concept that we explored was to help organizations, groups, councils, and associations assist their members while providing either a stream of income or discounts for these organizations.  Several companies responded positively to this idea: Chambers of Commerce, Hospital organizations, and others signed on for involvement in these relationships.

By March, nearly 20 companies had come on board and 12 more have followed since then.  We brought on two additional marketing specialists to assist us with these contacts.  The areas of interest ranged from Environmental to Government; software to construction projects, from hazardous waste to  fund raising, building quality initiatives into employee job descriptions; and economic development to educational training for management.

Once it was clear that this component of the new division was going to be functional and effective, we placed our focus and emphasis on direct consulting, which, due to the economy, was a much greater challenge.  This effort started very slowly as organization after organization expressed sincere interest but most also faced serious budgetary challenges.  Of course, for SunStone Consulting’s other financial divisions, because they specialize in finding the money that typically was already earned by the hospital or assisting with compliance and billing issues, business remained strong.

telemedicine_connectsDuring this time some very interesting assignments appeared including:  a university wellness program, multiple brain-oriented companies, as well as two PTSD, and two combat wound injury-related programs.  This part of the new division is now beginning to flourish with assignments ranging from the military to a hospital-based disaster recovery center, from telemedicine in rural hospitals to development efforts in Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and California.

As we move forward into this next quarter, it is clear that the new division will produce results through rewarding relationships for all companies involved.

Some of you have asked me how this effort relates to having been a hospital CEO, and that answer is clear.  As a CEO, my days were filled with challenges, with literally dozens of special efforts emanating from numerous areas.  For example, here is a typical  list of topics dealt with on a CEO’s agenda:   meetings regarding the following:

  • Community Fitness Center
  • Tissue Repository
  • Breast Center
  • Hospice
  • OB department expansion
  • Pharmacy
  • Operating Rooms scheduling
  • Emergency Department
  • a construction project
  • marketing efforts for a new initiative
  • finance

If you can’t multi-task, the position of CEO is not a place to be, and keeping up with these consulting clients is just as stimulating.

By March, nearly 20 companies had come on board and 12 more have followed since then.  We brought on two additional marketing specialists to assist us with these contacts.

NickJacobs.org???

April 2nd, 2009

Let me open this blog with a little housekeeping chore. Because I’ve retired from being a hospital president (Yes, they replaced me with two great people, count ‘em, two.) , I’d like to change the name of this thing. It’s not that I’ve established a P-Diddy-type Twitter following where 100,000 human beings are waiting with baited breath to see what my next move will be, it just doesn’t seem right to keep calling myself a hospital president. We know who reads this thing, and we are grateful to our loyal, talented, and brilliant followers. We also know that we can link the old blog names to get you here. So, regardless of what you typed, or what gets Googled, our genius social media maven & webmaster, Michael Russell, can help to bring you home to this site.

Okay, so as a transformational advisor, a broker of sorts, most people with whom we have consulted have described me as a person who can fix things that are broken before they actually break. Maybe we should call it the “Break it if it’s not already fixed” blog. I’d love it if it was a name that would generate millions of hits and companies would fight to advertise on it.

My first thought was to use nickjacobs in the title because there is a Nick Jacobs on Facebook who teaches Aboriginal people in Australia, and he seems popular. There is another Nick Jacobs who is a professional organist, and one who is an athlete. There’s a Nick Jacobs who is a consultant and another a paramedic in London, one who had a blog who is a yachtsman, there’s my son, the commercial real estate broker, and finally, there’s a Nick Jacobs who does pornographic movies who is not my son. Actually, that Nick Jacobs’ followers would probably be the most disappointed by this blog.

Since the .com version of nick jacobs was already taken by some guy in England, we captured nickjacobs.org, and that will work for right now.

If you have any ideas, however, that you think would really rock the blogspere, let us know and we’ll check with our domain registrar to see if it is available. In fact, if you are the winner of a Name Nick’s Blog Contest, I’d be happy to consult for free BY PHONE for at least one hour of brainstorming with you about the topic of your choice: music, healthcare, proteomics, teaching, PR/Marketing, the travel business, or even physician recruitment.

Remember, Hospital Impact is already taken, and, because my last three consulting jobs have been with a newspaper, a nonprofit arts oragnization, and a chain of hotels, we don’t want to think too restrictively. Gotta earn a little money, too.

When we ran the breast center, we found that the website got more hits than anyone could imagine. The problem was that the readers were mostly thirteen-year-old boys who probably weren’t too interested in running a hospital. After Miss America had visited us, the hits went up exponentially when those two searches were combined. Somehow, I don’t think that Nick Jacobs’ Breast Center for Miss America would probably get me the type of following I’m currently hoping to attract. On the other hand?

A very good friend recently asked me to write a brief bio about what my new life is like, and it struck me that it is very much like my old life but without any restrictions. This is what I wrote:

While teaching junior high school instrumental music in the early 1970’s, Nick Jacobs made an extraordinary discovery. He learned that, by empowering his students and surrounding them with positive influences, he no longer was providing a service or even an experience for them.

What this entirely unique teaching style resulted in was a method for helping to transform students. By providing with both passion and commitment the tools needed by them to undertake their journey, his involvement with the students became a means of dramatically helping them to make whatever positive life changes they were seeking.

It was during that early period in his career that he also discovered that this formula could work to positively change lives in almost any aspect of living as he ran an arts organization, a convention bureau, and finally a hospital and research institute.

Since that time he has dedicated his personal work to helping others make their lives better, and that is exactly what he is doing in his position as an international executive consultant with SunStone Consulting, LLC.

Maybe that will give you something to chew on? Okay, something on which to chew.

SunStone Consulting. With more than 20 years experience in executive hospital leadership, Nick has an acknowledged reputation for innovation and patient-centered care approaches to health and healing.

Horses and Health

March 13th, 2008

Due to my personal fund raising commitments this year, the staff here at my organization probably feels like hiding under their desks when they see me coming. You see, this is the year that we did a feasibility study to decide if we will have enough community support to raise needed funds to construct expanded emergency and obstetrics facilities and to provide WMC with a reserve for the future. That effort will be made public in a very few weeks.

The reason for their angst, has been that, for whatever reason, this is the year that their boss, me, has been solicited to solicit contributions for numerous other organizations in the area. As a board member for the Keystone Chapter of the American Red Cross, we worked with a tremendous group of local leaders, including our Congressman Jack Murtha, who helped us conduct a successful $300+K campaign that literally gave that organization new life.

Then we were approached by the Boy Scouts of America for their annual dinner to help generate enough cash to support their efforts as well. Over $110,000 was raised for that effort, the results of which will ensure the continued growth of the Penns Woods Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Next, came the Girl Scouts of Talus Rock; that project is currently underway and hopefully, will produce the needed funds for expansion and growth. Oh, yeah, and the Winter Jazz Concert is coming up, too. Finally, this is the tenth anniversary of the Arcadia Performing Arts Theater, and that place surely needs to be endowed with a reserve fund that will ensure its continued success.

Several years ago one of our employees explained philanthropy to me in this way. Each one of us have several pockets, and each pocket can represent our varied fund raising interests. In the spirit of giving, it is clear to us that, if you like the organization, believe in the mission or, for whatever reason, care about the vision provided by the board or the leadership involved, you make your decision to give or not to give.

When my own mother passed away, we discovered that, although her pensions amounted to less than half of the average salary in our area —which is about $10,000 less than the average U.S. salary, she was donating at least 50% of that money to organizations in which she believed. So, here’s one more worthy cause.

A few years ago, a wonderful, caring, local physician approached us regarding children at risk. During the numerous meetings that we held, we discovered the incredible healing qualities that equestrian therapies can provide. Yesterday, this topic was reintroduced by a dedicated, committed physician, Dr. Deb Baceski. She met with me to discuss the Somerset Therapeutic Association for Riders, S.T.A.R. located on the web at STA4R.org. According to their website, “Established in 1995, STAR has been providing safe, closely supervised riding lessons to physically and/or mentally challenged children.” It goes on to explain that; “In a typical training session, a handicapped child is helped to mount a carefully trained horse, and is then escorted on a ride for twenty minutes by three volunteers . . . ”

Star4org_1_3

One of the challenges that STAR is facing right now is that of the sometimes brutal winter weather that residents of this area have grown to know and “?” love. Dr. Baceski approached us for assistance in a program that she calls, The HORSE POWER Project. This project involves constructing an indoor riding arena so that the free therapy provided through this program is not interrupted by frost bite.

Although my organization is also quietly involved in soliciting assistance in our own expansion needs, this horse power project is not financially overpowering. The volunteer Physical Therapists, Physician Assistants, Teachers and Physicians who enable this empowering, socializing, learning program to go on for those individuals isolated by their disabilities, can’t do it alone.

So, take a look at sta4r.org, and, if you personally believe in this volunteer effort, or if you know of someone who could help them network their way to an enclosed arena, we invite you to show your support. Their address is 305 Highpoint Drive Somerset, PA 814-445-4909. Give if you want, but at least talk to someone who might.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
—Helen Keller