I have dreamed of serving in a clinical role ever since seventh grade. Though my path took me in a different direction in health care, that yearning persisted through my career and was amplified during the pandemic when our care teams were exhausted and struggling. In October 2021, after careful consideration, I decided to become an emergency medical technician (EMT).
Without telling my colleagues on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta executive team, I enrolled in the Grady EMS Academy. Two days a week, I left my “day job” early and completed coursework, which was a combination of classroom, lab and clinical rotations.
I spent several weekends in the back of an ambulance or working 12-hour shifts in Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency room. After getting my EMT certification and license in 2022, I logged 100 training hours with my preceptor in the emergency department at Children’s Scottish Rite Hospital. In March 2023, I completed my first solo shift as a certified EMT.
In addition to the copious technical skills I learned during my training, I gained firsthand insight into what our clinical teams experience every day. Being a clinical caregiver can take an emotional toll on a person. This opportunity allowed me to be on the front line and learn the importance of proper training and precepting.
Most importantly, I learned how the front line best receives communication, which is different than what I assumed as an executive leader. I discovered front-line employees don’t understand just how much our executive team cares about employees and how we always look for ways to remove barriers, provide staffing and resources, and make decisions to ensure our organization is financially viable.
This insight inspired the Adopt-a-Team program we piloted at Children’s Healthcare in late 2022. The program pairs support center departments with clinical teams to offer encouragement and show appreciation for their clinical counterparts. The program also gives support center employees exposure to clinical areas and brings them closer to our mission of making kids better today and healthier tomorrow while continuing to build relationships across all departments in our system.
I also learned that it’s never too late to start a new career, learn a new skill, or pursue a lifelong goal. At Children’s, we’re able to reinforce this idea internally through our new Career Center and externally through our MomForce program.
The Career Center is a consultation program that has helped more than 700 employees find growth and success. Of those, 90% stayed at Children’s, some in their current roles and others in new roles throughout the system. The MomForce program is a paid internship that helps talented, motivated parents return to the workforce and gain valuable connections along with the confidence they need to return to work.
After this experience, I feel more connected to all our employees, both on the front line and behind the scenes. At the end of the day, I’m better equipped to fulfill the Children’s promise of People First, Children Always.