November 18, 2020
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I joined UTHealth on January 7, 1999. I moved from New York to Houston on Thanksgiving weekend of 1998 to join my family as I was a “left behind kid.” I was the last one to move to Houston. My family moved in the summer of 1994. I opted to stay in New York because of my job (I rose from being an office manager to a junior level executive to a consulting company right in Midtown Manhattan, and it was hard to move since I was with the company for 12 years, and I am a very loyal employee). Once I realized what truly is important, I made my move after being away from my family for a long time. Coming to Houston was a huge leap of faith as I left behind families, friends, and work family. After the 1998 holidays, I started my job hunting and came upon an advertisement for a part-time/temp for the Department of Emergency Medicine. I applied and was called in for an interview on January 7, 1999. The then-DMO, Michael Bridgett, interviewed me and, I was told that a new chair will be coming in the next week or two. That day, I met Mike and Dr. Wilhelm (the residency program director). I was immediately told to start at 8 a.m. and by 10 a.m., I was again called into Mike’s office and was offered a full-time job as an executive assistant to the chair. I asked Mike to give me until after my husband’s birthday lunch. To make a long story short, I accepted the full-time position of executive assistant to Dr. Brent King at 1 p.m. on January 7, 1999. It seems like yesterday as I enjoyed working in Emergency Medicine from day one!
Tell me about your work history here.
When I joined the Department of Emergency Medicine in January of 1999, we had six faculty members covering Memorial Hermann emergency room, a handful covering LBJ (this was the time when the emergency room at LBJ was covered by internal medicine physicians). I joined in January and worked side by side with Dr. Wilhelm to work on the residency program’s program information form (PIF) (we did not have residents when I joined). We submitted our PIF and had a mock Residency Review Committee (RRC) in May and the RRC visit in July. Long story short, we got our residency back in September 1999 – we had a party that we called “Christmas in September!” We lost the program, then got it back as a full program with six interns that has now ballooned to 60 residents (1st to 3rd year). I supported Dr. King as his executive assistant from January 1999 to June 2013 (he left UT and is now in Maryland still practicing his craft); Dr. Jamie McCarthy, June 2013-February 2019; Interim Chairs, Drs. Sam Luber and Sam Prater, February 2019-May 2019; and currently Dr. Ben Bobrow, June 2019-present). I have the title of executive assistant but with my almost 22 years in the department, I play the role of the ambassador. My role is to make sure that the chairman’s professional life is smooth, faculty are in compliance, and overall that the department is adhering to all rules and regulations as well as all of the policies. As an executive assistant, my role encompasses a whole lot from recruiting to hiring faculty (from initial contact to the formal offer letter), annual reviews, grand rounds, faculty meetings, even social gatherings to name a few. I work hand in hand with the chair in all aspects of the department’s operations both administratively and clinically. I have enjoyed the process of recruiting and hiring and have fond memories of when a faculty was initially interviewed to when they were offered the job to what they were wearing at the time of interview as well as good conversation with them during the interviews. I have had fun connecting with people and learning things about them. The most important is that my chair (all of them) values my input. I have come to realize through the years my real value to the Department of Emergency Medicine.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
In my almost 22 years, we have promoted so many from assistant to associate professor and associate to full professor. This is a tedious process and involves plenty of time and a whole lot of patience. I believe, looking back – being directly involved with recruiting and hiring and then witnessing first hand their promotions to a higher academic level gives me a full sense of accomplishment. These and all the accolades received from faculty (some I have known since they were medical students then became residents and now faculty), the everyday “thank you” and the simplest e-mail or text messages gives me the feeling of what I have contributed to this department. I have seen marriages, babies, and retirements – these gives me a full sense that I have done something good while being employed by UT and the Department of Emergency Medicine. I believe that whatever this department has accomplished through the years, I am a part of.
How has the university changed since you first joined?
Tremendously. First, I think back to this department. When I joined in January 1999, we had four administrative personnel and just six faculty members. As of October 2020, we have 136 faculty; 73 mid-level providers; and 42 classified employees – bringing us to 251 employees total. We have more resources available now, more opportunities if you want something else, more room to grow (I just love my department, so I am still here). The culture is more diverse, and I love it!
Why have you stayed?
I am a very loyal employee. I don’t jump just because there’s another department paying more. I have learned to love the department as my second family (we spend more time in the office that in our own homes). I truly embrace the fact that every faculty’s success is my success. Each and every faculty have a story, and to me I am the keeper of those beautiful stories. I made a promise to myself that whatever happens, I will continue to see the good in every faculty and will stay on with the department not just for the success but for all the challenges as well. I stayed because I have the full support of my chair and my faculty. I am grateful for the opportunity that this department has given me. I have cried and laughed, I had tears of sadness and joy – this department has given me so much happiness personally and professionally.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
My family always said, “Mom, you are always at work! You are answering phones, texts, and e-mail 24/7!” All 3 of my children grew up while I am working at UTHealth. When not stuck to my phone or laptop, I enjoy being with my family, our Saturday night dinners, just hanging out with my kids and grandkids. Enjoying quiet time reading and taking care of my family. My husband and I (been together for 42 years), promised each other to travel more, and that’s the plan. This year, we had two international and two domestic travels planned and had to cancel, except for one in January. This pandemic taught all of us one big lesson – spend time with family. The simplest things in life are sometimes the most memorable. Now, let me schedule my vacations for next year!