July 28, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I was 19, newly married, and had just moved to Houston from a small town. I had no idea of where I wanted to work or what I wanted to do, so I started off with a temp agency. I initially started working at UTHealth as a temp employee in the Department of Family Practice in late 1989, which led to a temp position in Emergency Medicine in early 1990. I was hired full time as a staff assistant to four faculty members. We were such a small group and only had two small patient rooms as offices in Hermann Hospital. Back then, Emergency Medicine was under the Department of Surgery. We didn’t become an actual division until June 1991 and a full department late in 1992.
Tell me about your work history here.
I have been blessed to work my entire 31 years in Emergency Medicine. I started my UT career in April 1990. I’ve had the opportunity and honor to actively participate in the growth of the department throughout the years with the division transitioning to a department at the Residency Review Committee approval of the Emergency Medicine Residency program. Early in my career, I assisted Dr. Arlo Weltge with the creation and managing of the Technical Skills labs for the first-, second-, and fourth-year medical students. We would train 600 students a year on CPR, EKG, and ACLS skills. It was a lot of work but a tremendous benefit to the medical students.
As the department has grown, I’ve also had the privilege of providing administrative support in different areas. We now have numerous fellowships (Pediatric Emergency Medicine, EMS, Ultrasound, Global Health, Informatics as well as a few others), a growing residency program, and within the last couple of years, an expanding research division.
Emergency Medicine has grown tremendously over the last 31 years, and I have been lucky to be a front-row participant. I have gotten to work with some great department leaders who have gone to extensive strides to grow Emergency Medicine to the department we are today. We currently have over 300 faculty, staff, hospitalists, residents, and fellows. That’s a long way from the five of us that were here in 1990. Over the years my roles and responsibilities have evolved with the growth of the department. In the beginning, I had done a little of everything from providing staff support, moving heavy CPR equipment and furniture, and anything else as needed. As the years progressed, I moved to providing faculty administrative support to learning and assisting in the budgeting processes. I was happy to do anything that needed to be done to contribute to the overall success of the department.
I have learned a lot over the years. I’ve been blessed to have a director who believes in her employees and allows us numerous opportunities to learn and grow. She has taught me a lot over the years. We don’t have a lot of staff turnover, which is a great testimony to the departmental leadership. Employees come and make a career here.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I’m most proud of the fact I was able to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree in business administration after being out of school for over 18 years. I look back now and know I would not have been able to accomplish this with three young kids at home and working a full-time job without the support that I received from my family and the departmental leadership at the time. I’m am blessed to call UTHealth my second family. Thirty-one years is a lifetime of support, challenges, and celebrations. I’m also very proud of my four amazing kids and three (with another one due next month) grandkids. They each have grown up to be very self-sufficient, strong, and caring individuals. They are my greatest joy!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy challenges and learning new things, and Emergency Medicine has always allowed opportunities for both. I get to work with some of the greatest people I know who save lives daily but still come to the office and treat everyone with respect and dignity. What impresses me most about the people in this department is how everyone rallies when it is needed most. Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Harvey are two examples that stand out in my mind. Back with Tropical Storm Allison, the department came together to make sure everyone was able to continue to work from home. This was a fairly new concept at that time. I remember working from my car numerous days, going to various staff members’ homes around Houston to help get them set up and running with computers and supplies. It was a challenging work environment, but it was what was needed to keep the department going. With Hurricane Harvey, so many in the department lost most of their belongings (myself included) and the ability to stay in their homes. The department faculty and staff stepped up to assist those who were in need. It was an awesome feeling to know I was part of something special that came about during such a catastrophic event.
Why have you stayed?
The main reason I have stayed is the people in Emergency Medicine have always felt like family. They are there in the good times and the bad. This department has weathered Tropical Storm Allison, Hurricane Harvey, and COVID-19, to name a few, and came out better than ever. I can honestly say that I love the work, the people, and the challenges. There’s always work to do, but it doesn’t feel like work. It helps that the departmental leadership appreciates our hard work and treats us more like family and not just employees.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my kids and grandkids. Due to the pandemic, we had built a “playground” on our property for the grandkids to have something to do. I now spend a lot of time out there every weekend playing. I also enjoy gardening, baking, and arts and craft projects when I’m not busy with the grandkids. I am very active with my church, teaching Sunday School classes for Pre-K and kindergarten kids, teaching vacation bible school, and volunteering as the financial secretary. In my spare time, I enjoy relaxing with a good book.