We asked this month's spotlight a few questions. Below are her answers.
AR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
AF: I was born in Baltimore, Md., and am one of 11 children, five brothers and five sisters, in a large "blended" Catholic family. Living in a 13-person household was good preparation for leadership responsibility! The need for organization, the ability to "play nice" as a team member, negotiation skills, and finding and using one's voice all came into the picture in those early years.
AR: Tell us a little bit about your career? What were your steps to becoming CEO of Providence Hospital in the nation's capital? How has your present position involved you in the life of the city of Washington?
AF: My professional career actually started at Providence Hospital. While I was a nursing student at CUA, I worked part-time at Providence. After graduating in 1981, I continued at Providence as a new RN in the Intermediate/Step Down Unit. From the start I knew I wanted to be in administration. In fact, I used my first paycheck as an RN to do two things: buy a Motobecane 10-speed bike (which I still have and ride) and put money away in savings for graduate school. Upon finishing my master's degree four years later, it was clear that I needed more "real-world" experience! I applied for and was awarded a one-year Post-graduate Fellowship in Health Care Administration in Pittsburgh. From there luck and hard work opened more professional doors and opportunities. Prior to returning to Providence in March 2010, I was back in Baltimore as executive vice president at Mercy Hospital, where I served for 17 years.
It is wonderful to be back in Washington, D.C.; wonderful to be reconnected with CUA; wonderful to be part of the Brookland neighborhood; and wonderful to be back at Providence. I arrived at Providence just in time to celebrate its 150th anniversary. What a special opportunity to honor the history of an organization chartered by Abraham Lincoln and to design a bold vision for Catholic health care presence in our community.
AR: How did Catholic University prepare you for your current career? Any specific courses that you took/experiences you had while a student?
AF: Although I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, the education that I received at CUA had great breadth and the mark of excellence. While grounded in science and hands-on clinical experience, exposure to the arts, philosophy, theology, and ethics was personally and professionally enriching. I realize now how unique the CUA learning experience was.
AR: Was being a nurse always a dream of yours? How does your current position differ from your last nursing position?
AF: How I got into nursing is a long story, but suffice it to say that it turned out to be a very good choice. In my current role as CEO of a health system, being a nurse is certainly not a requirement, but it sure comes in handy. For instance, I can empathize with the staff during the holidays and say " Hey, I know what it's like to work night shift on Christmas." Additionally I have complete comfort walking into a patient's room or putting on scrubs in the operating room.
AR: Were there any specific faculty members who mentored you?
AF: While there were many fabulous faculty members that I remember, I must say that the person who has had the most enduring impact on me is Sister Rosemary Donley, former dean of the School of Nursing. I have vivid recollections of Sister Rosemary's energy, enthusiasm, joyful smile, and laugh. Sister Rosemary encouraged, in fact was a cheerleader, for all of us to do well, succeed, and proudly represent the profession of nursing.
AR: What advice would you give to 2012 graduates?
AF: There are three areas where I might offer advice. First, school might be over but learning can't stop. In fact, the content that you learn today may not even be relevant in five years. So, stay curious and up-to-date. Second, using your education and values, clearly formulate the philosophy that will guide you professionally going forward. It is easy with competing priorities and agendas to go off course without a strong philosophical "rudder." My last bit of advice is about discipline. Every job has components that are dull and boring. Have the discipline to do the entire job with gusto!
AR: What do you do outside of work to relax or to develop another talent?
AF: Now that I've been at Providence almost two years, I'm trying to get back to the fun and relaxing activities that I enjoy. For me that includes travel, biking, hiking, movies, gardening, and spending time at our little "get away" house in Oxford, Md.