At only 5 years of age Linda knew she wanted to be a nurse. She credits the family pediatrician and his wife, who was a nurse, for her inspiration and passion for the profession. The doctor and his wife had cared for her uncle at Children’s Hospital in DC when he suffered a compound fracture of the femur before the advent of penicillin. She still remembers her grandmother’s stories of the nurses and her tales of sitting by his bedside every day after work until he died a year later. At that point, Linda said, “I knew that I wanted to be part of a profession that allowed me to have an impact on people’s lives.” Today, Linda has over 40 years of expertise in leadership roles in the healthcare environment.
Awards & Achievements
Staff Nurse, Medication Clinic, Adjunctive Therapy (Riverview Medical Center)
Emergency Department, Staff Nurse (Riverview Medical Center)
Assistant Director of Nursing, Critical Care (Dorchester General Hospital)
Nurse Manager, Emergency Department (Dorchester General Hospital)
Manager, Ambulatory Review Projects (Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care)
Vice President Medicaid, Private Projects (Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care)
Director, Inpatient Quality & Utilization Review (Mid-Atlantic Medical Services)
Director, Quality & Utilization Management (Vivra Specialty Partners)
Regional Account Director (OneBody.com)
Consultant in Healthcare Practice, Strategy and Business Transformation (CAP Gemini Ernst & Young)
Director, Health Delivery Consulting Services (First Consulting Group)
Vice President, Clinical Practice, Health Delivery Consulting Services (First Consulting Group)
Director, Business Intelligence (The Advisory Board, Washington, DC)
Vice President, Consulting Services (Eclipsys Corporation)
Associate Partner, Clinical Advisory Services (Encore Health Resources)
Partner, Advisory Services (Encore Health Resources)
Interview - Question & Answer
What was the biggest academic challenge you faced in nursing school?
Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry. I have challenges with memorization, and I had to go to extra lengths making flashcards and using memory association techniques to learn. Once I could relate what I learned to a patient it was much easier to remember.
What areas of nursing do you find the most emotionally challenging?
Working with children with disabilities, as well as cancer patients.
Describe the early stages of your career…
In the days when I graduated, the majority of programs were Diploma. This appealed to me because I knew that I learned by doing, and it was also an economical choice. I was not wrong – we were on the wards by the second week of school. We studied a disease in the morning, and took care of patients in the afternoons, nights and weekends. I worked and studied all year round with a week off at Christmas and one in the summer. We worked in three-month rotations, so that allowed us to focus on specialty areas such as pediatrics, OR/Surgery, Psych, OB, ICU, Rehab, etc.
What qualities does a nurse need to be exceptional?
Compassion, intellectual curiosity, tenacity, and a love of lifelong learning.
How did you choose your clinical specialty?
I chose the Emergency Department for my clinical specialty before I went into consulting, because I loved the challenge and variety of patients we saw. Each patient who presents has a different story, and you need to listen, observe, put the picture together and have a wide knowledge base. I also loved solving problems and moving my patients quickly through the process. I find today that some of the best clinical informaticists are nurses with an ED or critical care background.
I think it’s important to note that I was an ED nurse and then Nurse Executive for about 15 years, while my children were growing up. I was always intrigued by how we could improve the quality of care and reduce medical errors and had an opportunity to work for a company who had quality oversight for Medicare and Medicaid Patients. I became a VP there and led teams of nurses, responsible for this oversight. Computers were just coming into vogue, and much of the data was still collected by hand, and manual chart review was the only way for us to track quality of care. I became involved in quality improvement projects with Harvard and Hopkins and the diabetic care guidelines came out of some of our work. After a stint in managed care and home health, I got my MBA over three years of weekend work (no social life at all!) and then went into consulting, starting with Ernst and Young. I have been leading consulting teams now for 15 years and love every day of it.
How has increased technology affected the field of nursing?
Technology is a great enabler, but it is only an enabler, it does not take the place of critical thinking. Nursing education has changed as well as the way nurses approach their work. I am not sure if it is the technology that has forced this change, nurse patient ratios, or the financial restraints that push us all to do more with less. I find that nurses today are often task oriented, they are driven by the “nurse task list” and by staying so focused on the tasks, we often don’t look at the patient as a whole. The diabetic in room 100, may also have hypertension and CHF, and how do these diseases come together to present what we see? Take that patient presentation to something as simple as knowing it is important listen to breath sounds, or taking the quality of a pulse, and putting all the pieces together with the aid of technology, but not technology alone. Listening, looking and developing a picture based on all the knowledge, not just individual tasks, is something that we may be losing based on our reliance on technology.
Will you share with our readers what an average day is like for you now?
My day can begin anywhere from 3am to 6am depending on my travel schedule. Mondays and early flights get me out of the house by 4am. I work remotely, or at client sites, but each day is usually very different. As the leader of a diverse set of healthcare IT consultants, I am responsible for the quality of delivery of engagements ranging from installing EMR’s, to clients asking for an assessment in areas as diverse as new physician payment models, and the selection of new software systems, or adoption by nurses of new technology.
Mondays on-site usually find me meeting with the team leads on the engagements, reviewing, progress to-date, brainstorming, strategy, and review of the development of what we call client deliverables (the work product we deliver to our clients).
Additionally, there are a number of administrative calls, usually on Mondays that go over staffing, open needs and budgets. I work closely with the sales team to develop new solutions to solve client problems as well as respond to what we call RFP’s (requests for proposals). These can be very lengthy and involve working with multidisciplinary teams to make sure we understand what the client is asking for and how to best respond. Most recently we are looking at forging partnerships; so last week I spent two days working with a young start-up company who are developing technologies to connect patients and caregivers and share and exchange critical information to manage care across the continuum and improve patient outcomes. I also respond to thought leadership pieces and write white papers. This work is usually done in the evenings, Friday’s or weekends.
Our teams and I fly home on Thursday night, so Fridays are usually spent with one-on-one calls with my team leads, as well as group calls with sales and delivery. CTG has a European division so recently we have been working with them. I am assisting them to focus on ways to improve care and quantify the value of technology investments in areas like antibiotic use, hospital acquired infections and hospital readmissions.
Most nights I am done working by nine but sometimes it is later as others on the team are West Coast and I am East Coast. I work hard to get eight hours of sleep, but always decompress by reading or watching a Netflix or Amazon series before I fall asleep! When I have time, especially if I am working from home, I spent 30 minutes on the Elliptical at the gym.
You obviously enjoy your job… what gets you excited about it and why?
Working with hospitals and teams to understand how we can improve outcomes of care, by using both technology and process change. We all know the data on medical errors and mortality. It saddens me to know that patients often get sicker in the hospital; especially older ones. Our mission is to heal and often the opposite happens. If we can develop tools and processes to reduce these errors we will have left a mark on lives.
If you had to describe the perfect nurse in single words, what would you say?
- Critical Thinking skills
- Lifelong learner
What do you think could most improve the field of nursing?
Greater emphasis on the art and science of nursing and its relationship to the patient’s outcomes, such as reduction in hospital acquired infections, or reduction in readmissions. Seeing the patient as whole, understanding that technology is an aid but our powers of observing, listening, and applying our knowledge of the nursing process are key to reducing harm.
What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your career?
I hope that I have left my mark on those I have mentored in both their nursing and informatics careers, and they will play that forward to others.
If someone said to you, "Linda, I want to be just like you." What would your response be?
Follow your passion and be a lifelong learner. I am offer asked how I managed such a career trajectory. It happened because I loved what I did; I didn’t plan a progression and opportunities opened up because people saw that I had interest, passion and was able to produce results. Never lose that energy by understanding what makes you want to get out of bed each morning. You can harness that energy and impact others!
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