Employees of a hospital have discussed a patient on social media, potentially violating federal law and definitely giving the hospital a wake-up call about not having a social media policy in place for employees.
What to do?
That was the question for a four-student University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team participating in the Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Student Case Competition.
The team addressed the question well enough to convince a three-judge panel to award them first place in the undergraduate division. They faced teams from University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Belmont University.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking, especially since there was time for a Q&A after. So it was really engaging, and it felt just like a great conversation and not so much a critique,” said Alexandra Sass, a senior with a double major in management and human resource management and president of the UTC SHRM chapter.
The contest was student-only. Faculty could not help in any way other than to offer encouragement.
“These students are truly stars in everything they do and their win is clearly evidence of their hard work and dedication,” said Dr. Katherine Karl, head of the UTC Department of Management. “Their win also is a reflection of the quality of education that they are receiving at UTC.
“To perform well, students need to have a deep understanding of human resources principles and practices as well as the ability to think critically and solve problems under pressure. I was told by several individuals who watched them present that, not only were they the most poised and confident, but their content was far superior to that of other groups.”
The case was given to the team by SHRM officials on Sept. 5 and had to be completed by Sept. 18, two days before the conference began in the Chattanooga Convention Center. Two weeks was not a lot of time for the UTC team to discuss the problems and come up with solutions.
“It was a bit of a challenge, but we were able to just find those pockets of time throughout the day where we could really hunker down and focus on the case,” Sass said.
The case asked three questions:
- How should the hospital address the employees’ behaviors—suspensions, official write-ups or other disciplinary actions?
- Does the hospital’s code of conduct cover what had happened?
- Should the hospital create a social media policy?
The students took it a step further and asked: What future actions could the hospital take to ensure the problem didn’t crop up again?
Each student took a single question and presented a possible solution to the judges.
Brooke Kesley, a senior from Ooltewah majoring in human resource management and part of the team, said the win “means that our hard work paid off.”
“It’s exciting to see the knowledge we have learned in the classroom play out in a real-life case scenario,” she said.
Team member Anna Shrum was still uncertain about her career path until the competition.
“Competing in the SETN SHRM case competition and winning solidified my future in HR,” said Shrum, a senior from Nashville and a double major in management and human resource management. “Being involved in UTC’s SHRM student chapter has allowed me opportunities that have confirmed my interest in human resources.”
Anna Jones, a senior from Stevenson, Alabama, majoring in human resource management, also was a member of the winning team.