I was recently asked what attracted me to the healthcare technology industry since there are relatively few senior executive women in our business. I have to admit, I was a little surprised by the question. But the more I pondered it, images of my career flashed by.
Why was I attracted to this industry and how do other women find a career path to healthcare technology? I work closely with four other extremely talented women at Crothall’s Healthcare Technology Systems (HTS) business, which manages the life cycle of all medical devices and clinical technologies in more than 200 U.S. hospitals. After speaking with them, I learned that there is not a conventional path to a successful career. But there is a desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives and take on just about any challenge that will open up new opportunities.
We all agree that a career in healthcare technology is rewarding and each of us encourages young women getting ready to graduate to consider it for the following reasons:
It provides endless opportunities to learn practical knowledge you can apply to your job every day.
People will respect your expertise and you can build your confidence while leading by example.
You will be developed by compassionate leaders.
You will experience the gratification that comes with meeting a client’s needs.
You can learn the importance of delivering results and achieving success.
Our paths into healthcare technology vary widely. My career in healthcare technology started four years out of school when I became a senior buyer for University of Virginia’s (UVA) Replacement Hospital Project. It was a fascinating time to start in health care. I was a brand new mom; my son, Tim was born just six weeks earlier. On the first day, I was asked to manage the procurement of all movable medical equipment and imaging equipment requests for proposal for UVA’s brand new Level III trauma center replacement hospital; the challenging task drew me in and I was hooked.
As my career advanced, I joined General Electric (GE). I was fortunate to work for a company that invested in developing its high potential managers by providing “stretch” assignments. I worked as the quality leader reporting to the chief executive officer for a GE joint venture and earned a Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification. As a result, I’m able to lead a wide variety of process improvement projects that can help reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.
At about the same time, I completed my master’s degree in business administration by taking evening classes. GE continued to provide me great career opportunities, and I was soon the general manager for its $260 million southeast zone imaging business in health care and later as general manager for its imaging installation services. As the GM for imaging installation services, I led several large projects that helped me gain even more experience including managing the installation of all GE MRI, CT scanner, PET and X-ray machines in the United States.
In 2016, I was fortunate to join Crothall. Today I oversee compliance, informatics, purchasing, capital equipment planning, imaging and costing for the technology resource group. So, what about my other four female counterparts in Crothall’s healthcare technology business?
Terri Crofts is Crothall’s northeastern regional director of operations. She is a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. While her original dream was to design prosthetics, while she was working on her degree she worked part-time as a biomedical engineer and learned more about healthcare technology management that piqued her interest. After graduation, she read a newspaper article and saw that Brigham and Women’s Hospital was looking for clinical engineers. She responded to the opportunity and says, “the rest is history.”
Lisa Fry is Crothall’s southeastern regional director of operations. She has a degree in business management with a focus in information technology. Her career started as a coordinator at Sentara Hospital in Virginia where she fell in love with the health care industry. As her career progressed, she worked with GE Healthcare and, like me, was exposed to several growth opportunities as a high potential manager. Before Crothall she was the director of service at Aramark and was the corporate customer director. In November 2014, she joined the Crothall family.
Jodie Nixon is the director of procurement. Like Lisa Fry, she started out as an administrator at another hospital, Carolinas Hospital System. Nixon’s willingness to jump in and take any challenge thrown her was the catalysts for her success. For example, on one occasion early in her role, her manager asked her to work over a weekend. Her manager tasked her with acquiring a specialized glassware part that is used on CT scanners in hospitals. In hindsight, it seems small but was truly a pivotal moment that built trust between her and her manager and it led to future opportunities including her current role as director of procurement in healthcare technologies solutions. Her skill and market knowledge is critical to the success of healthcare technologies.
Tiffany Bruce started her journey as a certified nurse technician right out of high school scheduling patient appointments on CT scanners and MRI machines. She contemplated nursing but decided to go back to school and get an associate degree in business. In 2012, she joined the Crothall family as a customer service representative and was recently promoted to technical buyer. In her role as technical buyer, she is learning not just about parts acquisition, but about the contracting process and use of terms and conditions. She is now completing a four-year degree at Western Governors University.
Throughout each of these woman’s stories are common themes of a passion for health care, learning, persistence and a commitment to excellence. Young women looking to care for others through their work in engineering should look no further; we want your enthusiasm and talent to help us continue to grow.
– Sheila O’Donnell is vice president, technology resource group, Crothall Healthcare.
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