Tell us a little about your background.
I am a native Houstonian and have never lived outside of Texas. I enjoyed growing up in such a diverse area, rich in different cultures. I love the museums, performing arts, live music, and having restaurants for any type of food you want. I earned my undergraduate degree here at the University of Texas Health Science Center and my graduate studies were at the University of Houston. I’ve been blessed to visit many places, but Texas is home.
What led you to a career in healthcare?
My mom is a nurse and she inspired me. I knew I wanted to have a career where I could make a positive impact on others and nursing was the right fit. I vividly remember my mom in her white dress, white hose, white shoes, and white cap as she would go off to work. I am glad the uniform requirements are no longer what they were, but my mom is still a little disappointed to not have a mother/daughter photo of us in our nursing caps.
We recently moved west of Houston and now have a small place with some land. We are tending to cows, sheep, and our miniature donkeys who believe they are in charge. Both of our kids are in college in Austin and they’re in a band that plays around the city and on the UT campus. My husband and I are their biggest fans and we go to see their shows as much as we can.
What was the best piece of advice that you received from a mentor throughout your administrative career?
I have been fortunate to have some amazing mentors throughout my career. The best advice I have received is be comfortable in your own skin. Your seat at the table is for you- not who you think others want you to be.
What is your hope for the future of healthcare?
My “magic wand hope” is advanced integration where systems can talk with one another and provide meaningful outputs to be aggregated in an automated process. This will guide continued development of standard work. This will position us to innovate reliable solutions, improve workflows, and reduce the opportunity for human error. I truly believe the advancement of this critical piece within our infrastructure will drive creative solutions to focus on the health of our patients, strengthen service lines, and position the healthcare teams for positive outcomes when patients need to be admitted into the hospital.
Currently, challenges in the workforce are the largest, in my opinion. Healthcare workers are exhausted- we all have experienced this in some capacity. I’ve seen great resilience and triumphs as well as far too many early retirements without definitive succession plans. I’ve heard many remarks to the effect of “I didn’t sign up for this.” Developing an environment where staff knows that they and their families come first is critical. Providing innovative and flexible scheduling so they can pivot to care for an immediate family need without fear of it impacting their job is essential. In Houston, staff can leave and find a job elsewhere in the same day. Remembering the team is as strong as its most timid member helps me to be brave in advocacy for creating an environment that fosters well-being and meaning for my staff.
What is your favorite part of working in healthcare?
The people. I have been fortunate to work with people who I admire and respect. I love how there is always something new to learn. I love that I get to be a part of serving my community and advancing healthcare. I love the challenge of getting things done that seem near impossible, at first. Working in healthcare is never boring. I have had the privilege of sharing many critical moments with my patients and colleagues that have taught me to never underestimate the amazing determination and resilience of the human spirit.
-Interview by Laura Gomez