Soft Skills for Croatian Healthcare: The Bagatin Academy Revolution

Total Croatia News

bagatin-academy (1).JPG

June 8, 2019 – Customer service and the concept of soft skills are sadly not things for which Croatia is well-known for, but there are attempts to change this as Sara Bukic from the innovative Bagatin Academy explains. 

Arguably the most dynamic clinic in the Croatian medical tourism sector is Bagatin Clinic, which has two facilities in Zagreb and recently also opened in Split. Named as the best clinic in Europe for dermatology as just one example of its international credentials, the Bagatin philosophy is a lot more all-inclusive than one would perhaps expect in business in Croatia. Education, education, education. A look at what is happening behing the scenes at a rather successful project of education for the Croatian healthcare system, best explained in an interview with Sara Bukic from Bagatin Academy.

bagatin-academy (1).JPG

1. Bagatin Clinic is known as one of the most progressive and successful clinics in the Adria region, but it may come as a surprise to many to learn about the sister project, the Bagatin Academy. Tell us about the Academy project and how it came about?

Bagatin Academy is an educational project very dear to my heart. In 2015, the board of Bagatin Clinic recognized the need for soft skills/people skills development in the medical sector so we launched an educational cycle for our employees, starting in September and ending next year in April, covering topics of communication, empathy, presentation skills and hospitality.

bagatin-academy (10).jpg

We often emphasize that we have the best medical staff who are frequently attending professional seminars and congresses in the field of their own expertise, but no medical educational institution has, for example, communication and leadership classes. In our opinion this set of skills is of great importance. Imagine this: you have two doctors who are both equally highly professional but one of them is kind to his patients, understanding, walking them through entire process etc. and the other one is snappish and makes patients feel like a number, not like a person. Which one would you go to?    

bagatin-academy (9).jpg

2. The educational concepts covered in the Academy may be standard practice. Place the Academy in the Croatian context – why was there such a need for it?

There are examples of poor communication practices in both public and private health care sphere, but the private health sector will persist only if there is a communication level appropriate for the client. It is important that we provide the client with the quality service they want and need.

As I mentioned earlier, schools and universities do not have classes in which our students would develop soft skills from the early days. That goes for medical faculties/universities as well. So, one of our long-term goals is that the system recognizes these skills as inevitable for the future of medicine and brings in similar courses as compulsory classes. I don`t think this is a challenge only in Croatia, but here is where we work and live and that is why we start with the change here. The programs and concepts covered in Bagatin Academy should really be a standard practice everywhere and we hope this will come true. We want to equalize the level of service quality in both the private and the public health sector. 

bagatin-academy (5).jpg

3. The Academy project was obviously not something together overnight, but involves many partners and planning. Tell us a little about that.  

I have the great pleasure of working with one of the greatest visionaries in the region. The idea was sparkling in the minds of our board members for a long time and they knew if they wanted to make a difference, they needed to abide by a very famous quote “if you want to change the world, start by changing yourself”. We are very happy that Bagatin Academy`s initiatives were recognized by the Croatian Medical Chamber and the Croatian Chamber of Nurses who have been supporting us since day one. They gave added value to Academy’s attendees by giving awarding points that doctors and nurses collect for their licenses. The support from the Chambers for us is a sign the system also recognizes the importance and the value of this kind of workshops.

Medical University of Zagreb, Medical University of Split and University of Dental Medicine also supported us by trusting us with their students who are the future of Croatian health care. Of course, nothing would be possible without our great educators and trainers who are sharing their knowledge in the field of people skills. We are collaborating with highly experienced professionals from all over Croatia who are using practical methods to teach people skills and we’re very grateful they joined us in this initiative within our health system. 

bagatin-academy (6).jpg

4. Who are the main clients, and what are they looking to get out of their relationship with the Academy?

Our main clients are doctors, medical nurses and technicians, auxiliary medical staff, people working in the medical sector, reception and call center staff; all the people you can find working in any kind of health institution, and of course, the future of Croatian health system, medical students.All attendees of our workshops are looking to raise the Croatian health care system to a higher level that provides more than just another series of treatments to users. There is a word “care” in health care but we often can`t find it. This is why we want the health care system to be: high expertise, kindness, giving and truly caring.   

bagatin-academy (8).jpg

5. How would you assess the success of the project so far? What are the main achievements?

Allegedly, Vincent van Gogh once said: “Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together.” That is exactly how I would assess the success so far. You have to understand that the idea of ​improving Croatian health care into a fantastic and successful story, which would result in placing Croatia at the center of medical tourism map, is a big venture. Let’s put it this way, if a man who is accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle suddenly decides that he wants to run the standard marathon of about 42 kilometers, he will certainly not get up from his armchair and immediately run those 42 kilometers. Every day in which he prepares for the great race, every day in which he does not give up and he still trains with all the effort, that is exactly his great achievement and a step closer to the goal.

We had our fair share of achievements through a number of held workshops through which we educated over 600 doctors and nurses, together with our partners I mentioned earlier.We are especially proud of the event for the students of medicine and dentistry we held in the cult Cinema Europe in the heart of Zagreb. “How to be the best doctor?” gathered over 300 students with whom we went through the topics of personal leadership and public speaking. Our CEO, Ognjen Bagatin, also shared his path of making the Bagatin Clinic, his attempts and mistakes on his way up. We know the students are our future, the best chance for change and improvement. 

bagatin-academy (2).jpg

6. How has the Academy been received in the business community here?

At first it was like we are doing something very strange. A lot of people hadn’t even heard of  the Croatian expression for soft skills which is “meke vještine”. At one point, an article came out saying Bagatin Academy was doing “neke vještine”, which means “some skills”. They switched the letter “m” with the letter “n” because it had more sense to them. People were confused about what kind of education we are doing; the community always associated us with medicine, so they could not understand and associate us with soft skill training. Over the years it became more clear what we are doing and why are we doing it, so many of our partners and friends but also competitors attended our workshops and some of them also started their own Academies, which makes us proud knowing that we are getting closer to our goal – to educate (directly or indirectly) all medical staff in people skills.

bagatin-academy (4).jpg

7. Tell us a little about the quality and experience of the mentoring/teaching staff. 

 In the past four years we have been cooperating with over 50 excellent educators and coaches. Their fields of expertise are really different – from psychologists, economists, experienced businessmen and leaders, experts from the field of organizational culture and organizational design who, in addition to their primary knowledge, are certified by various coaching and educational boards in Croatia and/or the world.

bagatin-academy (7).jpg

8. Who is the Academy aimed at, and what are the main areas you can help Croatian businesses? How receptive have Croatian businesses been to your programs? 

Bagatin Academy is focused on the health sector and on the education of the whole medical staff. It is not easy to change our own habits and our way of work, let alone someone else’s. With time they started to open up to the idea. We are aware that this is an alteration of their mindset. Some think we will never succeed in this idea, while others approach us, with their desire to make an improvement with us. Together we can do a lot and this beautiful country will flourish. We are always open to cooperation and projects that have the potential of making the difference. 

Our goal is to make a Patient Experience conference and bring in the big players to Croatia such as Cleveland Clinic, Disney, Ritz Carlton and other major world brands. For quite some time now we’ve been in negotiations and agreements with wonderful people from the Cleveland Clinic, and some of them we’ve already hosted here in Bagatin Clinic in Zagreb, in March 2019. Now we would like to share their incredible knowledge and experience internationally. Hosting this conference would mean that experts in telemedicine, AI and innovation would come to Croatia, and everyone else would follow. We want to place Croatia on the world map as a top medical tourism destination.

9. Where is the Bagatin Academy going to be in 5 years?

What are the goals? Can we meet again in 5 years so I can tell You what happened?  The goals are very clear: 20.000 doctors, 3.500 dentists, 30.000 nurses have heard at least one soft skills lecture from the Bagatin Academy or another provider. Dental Medicine University and Medical University has introduced a course for communicating with patients or something similar from soft skills domain. We would like to have 3 more competitors who would do the same thing as we do, because together we can do much more.

To learn more about the Bagatin Academy, visit the official website.

To learn more about health tourism in Croatia, follow the dedicated TCN section.  


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment