1. Please, tell me a little about yourself? What is your story?
I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, in a household with 3 siblings. Right from the beginning we were encouraged to strive for higher education, so I received my Bachelors in Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and I attended the University of Memphis, where I received my Masters in Healthcare Administration. From there, I was able to work with a cadre of senior leaders in the Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare (MLH) system in Memphis, Tennessee and they were really great mentors and coaches. One particular leader, Cecelia Sawyer, provided me a wonderful opportunity to become her mentee, and she significantly molded my early career. She is the retired CEO of the University Hospital within MLH. Cecelia was the first person to expose me to NAHSE by inviting me to a Memphis Chapter meeting. I immediately met a wonderful group of people who have become great friends of mine. After I completed my schooling, I worked in various roles in healthcare. In my last role, I was the Director of Operations at Methodist University Hospital. I was later recruited to Chicago by Bobby Clapp who was then the Executive Vice President at Rush University Medical Center. I have been working here at Rush, and it has been an exceptional experience. I have been able to sharpen my leadership skills, grow my professional acumen and further enhance my healthcare leadership network. Currently I serve as adjunct faculty with the University arm of Rush and a preceptor for many of the graduate students pursuing their Master’s degree in Health System Management.
2. What is something that most people do not know about you?
I love to sing and simply enjoy music. I believe music fill in the missing pieces of life.
3. When have you been most satisfied in your life?
I am usually most satisfied when I have a sense of accomplishment and completion. When I first came to Rush I went from managing about 300 FTEs to upwards of 800 FTEs. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can look back and say that we met the goals outlined in our strategic plan. My team, at the time, completed a large project a couple of years ago when we opened our new patient tower. We were able to prepare for the move, operationalize the new facility, and transform the way we provided care and service to our patients. In spite of some challenging times, we survived and overall, I am happy to say it was a positive experience for all involved.
On a personal front, I was most satisfied last year, when my husband and I were able to welcome our son, Jaxon, into the world. My son has brought so much joy to our lives after only one year. I can barely imagine what is to come.
4. Most people have a list of things of they like to do, but what are the things that you do not like to do?
Oh, that’s a good question. I do not like to work with people who truly do not have the patients’ best interests as their number one priority. I don’t like to work with people who are selfish and incapable of seeing the bigger picture. I don’t like to work in an environment that is unsupportive of their employees. People tend to succeed in the workplace when they are valued and supported.
5. Could you please tell me about a specific accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
I am sure a lot of people tell you about major moves, or mergers, but I believe that my most significant accomplishment in life has been when I have been able to help other young people advance their careers. I feel satisfied when I am able to pass on life skills, work skills and leadership skills that young people can apply in their professional and personal endeavors. So for me, when I work with young adults and see their growth, it is an amazing feeling. All of them continue to keep me posted on their progress. I actually speak quite often with many of them.
6. Please tell me about a time when things didn't go the way you wanted-- like a promotion you wanted and didn't get, or a project that didn't turn out how you had hoped.
I don’t have any comments here.
7. We're constantly trying to making healthcare better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more - with less. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
We are looking at patient experience in our organization and how to improve it further. Particularly we were looking at patient flow and work throughput. We looked at our patient care areas in order to decrease the number of delays contributed to an inpatient unit. We were able to develop a process and protocols by working through a formal process improvement project. We revamped the technology that provided support of this effort. There were a lot “aha” moments and there was a collaborative environment, where everyone in the team was appreciated and respected. We were able to shave off 19% of the overall time that it took to move our patients from point A to point B. This impacted the entire patient throughput within the hospital.
8. Who is your role model and why?
Cecilia Sawyer, she is a retired CEO of Methodist Healthcare System in Memphis Tennessee. She is now a consultant with her own management firm. She is a classically trained nurse at heart and possesses a MBA with 40 plus years of healthcare experience. She has been an individual who has taken the time to care enough and genuinely wants me to succeed. She is an amazing listener; she gives amazing advice. Cecelia personally took me under her wings and taught me how to be an influential leader in Healthcare.
9. What is the quality you most admire in others?
Honesty. I love a person, who is honest in a tactful manner. A person who is able to deliver a message that is truthful, direct but has perfect timing and compassion.
10. What has surprised you most about working in Healthcare?
I am most surprised by how corporate it is in general. It is a very corporate environment that has many layers of business operations. I was a little surprised when I first started on this path because I never saw myself working in corporate America. But at the same time it is a very nurturing environment. There are clinicians are committed to the care of their patients. I am not surprised about the intangible parts, but it is a very corporate environment, where you have to learn to appreciate the business side.
11. If we're sitting here a year from now, celebrating what a great year it's been for you, what did we achieve?
Overall it would be a great year, if my family and I are healthy. I have experienced professional growth, provided valuable contributions to my community inclusive of my workplace and strengthened my relationships in all facets of my life. Simply, happy…
12. Finally, any word of advice / wisdom to fellow members and colleagues?
I would encourage them to remember their first love and drive for healthcare and why they chose this career path. Keep focused on improving the health of the communities we live in and serve.