Hello SOTGC community,
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a phenomenal woman. I met Connie when she came to work with us at (what was then) Salient Surgical Technologies. She had been the director of a blood bank at a hospital system in Georgia, and was brought in house due to the knowledge and passion she brings to the blood management cause. Connie is smart as a whip and is caring while at the same time has a “no nonsense” way of communicating. What has always impressed me about her is that no matter how busy our company keeps her, no matter what is on her overloaded plate, she responds promptly, is always available to help and add resources to your education, and is lovely to interact with.
I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I’ve enjoyed constantly learning from her. If you’re aspiring to become a nurse and wonder “what kind of impact could I have in that vocation” then Connie is a shining example of how one lady, with the right passion and refusal to be denied, can help changes lives all over the nation.
Good morning SOTGC readers. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a phenomenal woman. I met Connie when she came to work with us at (what was then) Salient Surgical Technologies. She had been the Program Coordinator of a Blood Management Program for a 630 bed community hospital system in Georgia, and was brought in house due to the knowledge and passion she brings to the blood management cause. Connie is smart as a whip and is caring while at the same time has a “no nonsense” way of communicating. What has always impressed me about her is that no matter how busy our company keeps her, no matter what is on her overloaded plate, she responds promptly, is always available to help and add resources to your education, and is lovely to interact with.
Connie wanted me to add this note in, as an explanation of her “life is not fair” comment that comes up in one of the questions. When I read this I must say that I shed a few tears and have even more respect for her need to help others who were given “unfair situations” and try her best to make it better.
“I got married the first time while I was still in nursing school. I was 21 years old, a few months shy of my 22 birthday (but, still young) and married the love of my life. We were ready to conquer the world. And then before our first anniversary, he got sick. Not like with cancer or something well understood, but when finally diagnosed, it was Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. Our lives together as a married couple last a total of 28 months, and half of that time, he was sick. When he died, I knew I had to go on, that there was more for me to do. It is this very real experience that gives me the – “life isn’t fair” perspective but in the end what is fair IS life. All the lessons learned, all the people we encounter, all the daily “stuff” it is what makes us who we are and bonds us together!! It’s how we find God – peace – and love for one another. It is through this journey, that I have become ME – and I am blessed beyond measure for friends like Marney!! Who see in me, what I try daily to show to all … that sense of altruism that may be a fault, but is who I am!! “
I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I’ve enjoyed constantly learning from her. If you’re aspiring to become a nurse and wonder “what kind of impact could I have in that vocation” then Connie is a shining example of how one lady, with the right passion and refusal to be denied, can help changes lives all over the world.
What got you into medicine?
My mom is a nurse. I always thought it was cool as a kid growing up that I knew things other kids didn’t because of what she “taught” me … Like where your popliteal pulse is and what it’s called. I had always wanted to be a teacher, thought the idea of having the summer off was really a nice perk, but she always saw something more and really encouraged me to go into nursing. Now, as the Clinical Education Manager, I have it all!! Medicine and education all in one role, could it be more perfect?
Certainly … The helping and caring components became more important as I grew into the role!
Have you had a mentor along the way and if so, what are two valuable lessons they taught you?
I have had a mentor and the most impactful advice I got was a mixture of the following messages: “YOU can do this!” and “We hired you for your brains.” My mentors have always seen more in me than I saw in myself which is a wonderful trait mentors have.
What was the biggest challenge you overcame during your training or even once you were in practice?
Becoming a nurse was NOT an easy process for me. I flunked out of nursing school and had to reapply for acceptance. Once I completed my training, it took me three tries to successfully pass my boards for licensure to practice. So, once I FINALLY was a registered nurse… Whew the rest was easy! I then went on to graduate cum laude from THE University of Michigan and with honors from Western Michigan University. Seems once I figured it out … I was on my way!
What motivates you?
Doing the right thing for the right reasons to improve patient care. I have always liked being in the change mode (when change made sense). I am always trying to figure out ways to do it better, get it done easier or faster, wanting it to be better for the next person. So, give me something to change/fix – I am ALL in.
What is your idea of bliss?
Spa treatments, especially a wonderful facial.
How do you maintain work life balance and what are two practical tips you can give people who are working on achieving this?
- Since travel is the majority of what I do now, I never do work on a plane. That is my time. I may read the newspaper, a book or magazine or just nap …sometimes just getting to know the person you are sitting with is huge … But that is MY time. It prepares me for what lies ahead once I de-plane.
- It’s ok to say no and veg out instead. Some time is needed just for you and that’s completely and totally ok! Now, more than ever, I pick and choose what I do with MY time. So when I am home, I do a lot less “stuff” and a lot more for me.
- Another part that just occurred to me, I learned in a seminar while I was in grad school, the lecturer was speaking on this very subject, and she said, “Buy whatever you hate doing, as long as you can afford it”, for example, having your husband’s shirts ironed, having your house cleaned, have your groceries delivered – and I do keep that as a way to maintain balance and find that it makes coming home easier and more rewarding!
Do you think self awareness (some call it “authenticity” ) plays a role in personal and professional development? If yes, how has it helped you on both levels?
Personally, I am very spiritually driven. As a result, I had one of my mangers tell me in an evaluation once, that I am so altruistic that sometimes it is a fault. I believe we all should do our best and be nice to one another. So, I have learned, that life isn’t fair … But what IS fair is life. This is certainly one of the reasons that traveling to Guatemala each year to participate in a medical mission is SO important to me. I forego a “family” vacation with my children to have this time to help others. It’s during this time that I see my authentic self shine.
Professionally, my passion for what I am doing right now – because I passionately believe it is the right thing to do for better patient care and outcomes – plays right into my altruistic side so, in my current position, I couldn’t be in a better place. I believe that through the education I provide – lives are positively impacted. Someone’s grandmother will have less surgical complications because of the education her doctor or nurse gained.
What keeps you going on days when you’re exhausted and worn down?
The excitement shared by others through the education provided and always knowing another door will open, this is not the last act.
What are two lessons that you wish you had learned earlier in your career?
- Life is not fair!! Human nature does not provide for fair, just as in the animal world, it is the early bird that gets the worm. Everyone carries a burden, or has walked more miles, or has experienced tragedy – it’s not fair…but it’s what molds you into the person you’re supposed to become. So take life’s challenges, and mold yourself into the best version of you that can be created.
- Sometimes real idiots get promoted. And you have to deal with it. It’s not the best situation, but you will learn a lot – about yourself, your tolerance, and how to work with others.
What two pieces of advice would you give a woman who dreams of going into medicine?
- Never quit learning – both formally and informally. There is always room for growth!
- Work you way up – never forgetting that first job you had and how you felt the first day at that job! Some of the best physicians I know were once orderlies or unit clerks, and they understand the system and how it takes everyone to make a hospital work.
What advice would you give a woman who is on that path (IE nursing or med school, residency or fellowship) and is struggling and needs some inspiration?
No matter how hard life gets or how frustrated and run down you are, when you need perspective – go sit with a dying patient and ask him/ her to tell you about their fondest memory, a story about a grandchild, or simply some words of wisdom … You’ll gain the inspiration you need to go on … For in all of us is an element of altruism, of where we are when truly centered, and it is there that true inspiration lies.
What initiatives on “getting more women into science” give you hope for the future of women in medicine?
I believe that at the end of the day, less emphasis is going to be on science and more is going to be about the care of the patient. I believe the “new” physician will be either a bedside patient advocate or a researcher, not one in the same. I believe more and more NP/ PA’s will provide the true care to patients and physicians will be in research or education roles.
That being said, the current access to science and math within the school systems is opening avenues for all, not just women. When I was in high school, one of my counselor told my mom that I wouldn’t do well in a large university setting, and yet, I did!!! Cum laude from THE University of Michigan!! And each of us knows someone who has overcome those same stereotypes to succeed.
What is your mantra?
I have two.
- Never put something out there, that if your Mom were to read it, she wouldn’t be proud of the woman her daughter is becoming.
- Be still and know that God is here for all that life has to offer!