Tell us about your background and where you grew up.
I have lived all over the U.S. Growing up, we moved quite a bit. I really enjoyed seeing new places and meeting new people. My mother made sure that every time we moved we visited the local attractions and saw all of the local sites. The knowledge that I gained from this has come in handy, especially when playing Trivial Pursuit!
What are some of your favorite things about living in Texas?
After getting married, except for a few years, we have lived in Texas. I love how diverse it is. The panhandle is very different from North Texas and North Texas is very different than South Texas. There is so much to do and so much to see. The people are wonderful, very welcoming and friendly. After living in Texas for so long, it is definitely home for me.
What do you like to do in your free time?
We stay very busy during the week, so just some downtime with my family is always nice. My husband and I enjoy walking/jogging (we call it wogging). We also enjoy walking our dog (dwogging).
What was your favorite course in nursing school and why?
I really enjoyed my nursing leadership course. It was satisfying to be able to be able to work with my fellow students and develop plans and make decisions about how we were going to provide care for that shift. At graduation, I received my nursing school’s leadership award. That was really nice and it validated the decisions that we made, and the way we made them.
What made you decide pursue a career in healthcare leadership?
I really enjoyed taking care of patients but I also wanted to effect change in health care. Being at the bedside you see a lot of things that can be improved. I wanted to be able to make those improvements and empower those at the bedside to make them too.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your perspective on leadership?
I don’t know that it has changed my perspective, but it has reinforced my belief that healthcare really is a team sport. When we look back at what we have done so far, there isn’t anything that we have done that didn’t involve others. Understanding what changes need to be made, making them quickly and staying one step ahead takes the entire team.
What was the best piece of advice your received in your career?
There are two pieces of advice I received that I use daily. The first was from my mother when I was growing up. She would say to me “Be quiet and eat your food.” Obviously there was more to this, but her point was you should listen more than you talk. It makes you a better person and it makes you a better leader. The drive that moves all of us into leadership positions can sometimes overshadow the basics. Listening is basic and when you do it right, it’s invaluable.
The second piece of advice was from a mentor and dear friend. It is not so much the words she shared with me (which have been many over the years) but what she showed me. She showed me that it doesn’t matter if a role or responsibility is “non-traditional” for a nurse, I still have something to offer. She was definitely ahead of her time and has truly inspired me, and many others, to be better and to do more.
What career advice would you offer to early careerists and mid-careerists?
Healthcare is an amazing place to be because it is always changing. We work through and respond to natural disasters, pandemics and just about anything that gets thrown our way. That’s our job, it’s a calling. We also deal with an ever changing reimbursement, regulatory and legislative environment. The best advice I can give is to be flexible, embrace change and enjoy the ride even when it gets bumpy. It’s worth it.
-Interview by Laura Gomez