Women in healthcare share how they take risks, overcome doubts

When Wendy Carver started her career as a compliance analyst, she looked across the table at executives and thought, “Even if I want to be at that level, I probably won’t be able to do it. Those people have something you don’t have.”

Thanks to building resilience while serving in the “sink or swim” environment of the military, Carver, SWHR’s Chief Compliance Officer, learned how to change her mindset and develop an attitude that there’s nothing she can’t do.

“When things got tough, I would take a step back and take a moment to recenter myself and remember my priorities,” she said.

Carver was experiencing imposter syndrome, or doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, particularly women. This was one of several topics four SWHR leaders discussed during the “Celebrating the Journey of Women in Healthcare” panel in March. SWHR hosted the event as part of Women’s History Month and its overall commitment to uplifting diverse viewpoints.

Carey LeMener, MD, worked with a coach to overcome her struggles with imposter syndrome and what she calls “chronic self-underappreciation” and the “mean girl voice in your head.” These feelings can come from external micro- or macro-aggressions.

When addressing imposter syndrome, it’s often helpful to have people around you that believe in you and reinforce your abilities, shares LeMener, Vice President, Chief Network and Physician Experience Officer. She also said it’s about “progress not perfection — focusing on a growth mindset. If I fail, it’s OK. It’s not the end.”

While women are often taught not to talk about their accomplishments, it’s important to break through and advocate for themselves in the workplace, said Roma Patel, Director of Coding Operations in the Risk Adjustment Department. Patel is a leader on SWHR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council.

“Be proud of yourself and believe in yourself — and have those conversations with your boss,” Patel said. “It takes courage. Maybe the first conversation is hard, but the other conversations will be easier, and it will come natural.”

Having the courage to take risks contributed to the panelists’ career advancement.

Yolanda Rodriguez, Vice President of Care and Disease Management for SWHR’s Accountable Care Organization, took a risk to become a registered nurse while she had a full-time job and young children. This included having less resources, as she recalls eating ramen noodles and driving an old truck to clinical rotations. “Listen to what your soul is telling you what to do around goals — even if it’s one step or one class,” she said.

When she was stuck in a job where she felt like a robot making widgets, Carver took a risk to suggest a new position to her boss. She noticed that the operations and compliance departments weren’t speaking to each other and thought there should be one person with a foot in each department to make the communication more seamless. This idea turned into Carver’s new position.

“I had inadvertently created another opportunity for myself to get out of the widget space and do something that was stimulating,” Carver said. “That was the catalyst for me into management.”

At the end of the panel discussion, the panelists were asked what they would tell their younger selves. LeMener said it’s important to be “aware of how we speak to each other and how we build each other up or tear each other down.”

 

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