Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona and St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center
Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
During the day, I was a secretary for a construction company. I answered phones, coordinated job assignments and oversaw payroll. In the evening, I worked at Walgreens stocking shelves and cashiering. I learned making a living without a college degree was very hard work. It was tough holding down two jobs and trying to have a life, especially as a college student. I had a lot of fun, but knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in either position.
Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
When I finished my nursing training, I took a position as a staff nurse at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. My first assignment was in labor and delivery. I took the 3 to 11 p.m. shift because it paid more money. It was very exciting and frightening to be responsible for the lives of mothers and babies. As a new graduate, I learned a lot about life, experienced situations that brought people great happiness and overwhelming sadness, and I sometimes saw the violent side of humanity. I had a tremendous passion for being a nurse. It was fun working with people, hearing their stories, and witnessing new life come into the world. I would get teary-eyed every time I saw a birth — it’s so miraculous.
What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I netted $250 a month working as both a construction company secretary and a Walgreens sales clerk. I spent eight months earning enough money to buy a used Buick. My first nursing paycheck netted $534 for two weeks of work.
Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
Dr. Jodi Alphin was a great mentor to me. I reported to her when I was director of nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital in Colorado. She mentored me in decision making, relationship building, and the art and science of leadership. Jodi molded my career in a variety of ways and helped me grow into a health care leader.
What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Proposed budget cuts at the state and federal level have made this an extremely difficult time for health care. If you are entering health care today, you will need to be innovative and able to envision a different delivery system for care — a system that incorporates personal accountability, evidence-based medicine and prevention. This is a time in health care when you can make great contributions to mankind.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would be an executive chef and owner of a world-class restaurant in a major metropolitan area. I would have won a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for my food and wine.