Place of birth: Seymour.
Date of birth: March 6, 1956.
Title: Division head of the Indiana University School of Nursing at IUPUC.
Duties: I teach a course in nursing ethics, which I like, but most of my week is spent in meetings to address anything from short-term issues to long-term strategies to make sure that our curriculum meets student needs.
Education: Bachelor’s in nursing from Indiana University, master’s and doctorate in business administration with a health care focus from Central Michigan University.
Has been with IUPUC since: 2009.
Family: Husband, Steve, works at Taylor Bros.; an adult daughter and an adult son; four grandsons.
Community involvement: Vice president of the East Indiana Area Health Education Centers, which educates students from kindergarten through high school about careers in health care and tries to encourage them to enter the field; Immanuel Lutheran Church in Seymour; treasurer of the Pregnancy Care Center.
Hobbies: Spending time with friends and family, especially fine dining and cards. I also like all IU sports, but my husband’s a Purdue grad, so we try to find a balance. We also like to go on vacations. Almost every year we spend a week in Destin, Fla., and another in Sanibel Island, Fla. We also usually take one adventure vacation per year. Last summer we spent time in Portland, Ore. The year before we were in Portland, Maine.
What was your first job?
At 9 years old I baby-sat for a family across the street. I started waitressing when I was 13. My parents weren’t wealthy, so I worked as a waitress until I got my degree at IU.
What primary lessons did you learn from those jobs.
As a waitress I learned how to deal with people, to show patience and understanding. In health care, people sometimes don’t think of patients as customers, but when you do that, you treat them better.
What was your first leadership position? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
When I got my degree at IU, I came to work at what was then Bartholomew County Hospital in 1979. I was one of two nurses on my shift in labor and delivery. The other nurse, Jean Colford, was more experienced, but I was the supervisor because I had a college degree. Jean is a big reason why I stayed in nursing. She was very understanding and helpful and took the attitude that my education would benefit the patients and the hospital. She helped me see what leadership was. If I didn’t know a simple procedure, she wouldn’t look down on me but help me. We learned from each other.
What primary lessons have you learned from your leadership assignments?
A: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you need to plan to implement changes and communicate clearly and often to all the people involved. I served as a chief nursing officer in Madison during a severe nurses shortage, and we had 40 openings, which was huge for a small hospital. I had been working on my thesis on nursing recruitment and retention, and the hospital’s chief executive officer recruited me to put my thesis into action. And while we filled all of the positions in several months and got recognition in a hospitals magazine, I learned that we should have planned better and taken it more slowly to make sure that our growth was manageable. We did it too fast. Some of the people we hired talk to me about that to this day. Nobody even knew where the bathrooms were. It was that hectic. I was in health care administration for 18 years in six hospitals in southern Indiana, and I still provide consulting services, and I always say that you need to plan very well any changes you want to implement. Otherwise things tend to go back to the way they were before. I’ve also learned that as a leader you should look at yourself as a servant, that you’re working for your employees, not they for you.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: I love education and I love nursing, so this is really the best of both worlds. I like education for the same reason I like nursing: I like helping people, and I think I can make a difference.
Q: What do you like least?
A: Politics. We have a whole lot less of that here than in other jobs I’ve had, but sometimes it’s tough to deal with people who care only about their own goals rather than the goals of the organization.
Q: What advice do you have for people who are just now entering the workforce? How can they make sure they’re successful?
A: Education is never wasted, so I would encourage them to pursue education beyond high school. And try to put yourself in a position where you do something you love. It’s more important that you love what you do than how much money you make. Also, whatever you do, find a mentor, find that person that inspires you and seek their help so that you can be the best you can be.
Q: What’s the No. 1 thing you expect from your employees?
A: That they work together as a team to provide the best quality education for our nursing students. I want them to think about that if one of their loved ones ends up being a patient, what kind of nurse they would like to have take care of that loved one. That’s the kind of nurse we want to educate here.
Leadership Columbus is a twice monthly Q&A with Columbus’ leaders. If you know someone we should talk to, contact Boris Ladwig at 379-5712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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