As we celebrate Nurses Month this May, I realize that it has been 25 years since I graduated from the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati and obtained my Registered Nurse license. This milestone prompts me to reflect on the incredible experiences and opportunities my nursing career has brought my way. When I made the decision to switch my major from Biology to Nursing, little did I know the amazing pathway it would set me on.
My initial inspiration to become a nurse stemmed from a deep desire to become a flight nurse. Right after high school, I joined the local volunteer fire department, eager to serve my community. Over two summers, I obtained my firefighter and EMT certifications. On numerous occasions, we found ourselves in situations where we needed the expertise of air ambulance service, given our distance from the trauma center. It was during those moments that I witnessed the incredible work of the clinicians on board, who were nurses. Their commitment to saving lives and their advanced medical knowledge left an indelible impression on me.
During nursing school, I had the opportunity to complete the Army ROTC program. This led to my commissioning as an officer and serving on active duty from 1997 to 2001. It was during my deployment to Bosnia that I had my first eye-opening exposure to healthcare systems in crisis. Witnessing the challenges faced by these systems and the immense need for assistance ignited a desire within me to make a meaningful difference. Although I was unsure of how I could have a significant impact at that time, the Army presented me with opportunities to explore non-traditional nurse roles and grow my leadership skills, further fueling my passion for improving healthcare.
After my time in the Army, I was presented with a job opportunity as a case manager in the field of home health. It was an area of nursing that I wasn’t as familiar with, but I decided to take the leap. At the time, my clinical rotations at UC were focused primarily on emergency and critical care, and I didn’t fully grasp the immense impact that the home health sector has on the overall U.S. healthcare system. However, over the next few years, as I worked in various roles including visit nurse, supervisor, clinical director, and performance improvement coordinator, I began to appreciate the profound effects that home care has not only on patients but also on their families, friends, and the community as a whole.
One of the great benefits of being a nurse is the ability to explore different job opportunities. At one point during my home health journey, I decided to take a break and worked in an ICU for a year. I contemplated going back to school to become a nurse anesthetist. However, it was during this hiatus that I stumbled upon an opportunity to start an outsource medical coding company specifically for home health agencies. While the concept of outsourcing medical coding wasn’t new to the healthcare industry, it was a novel idea within the realm of home health agencies. This marked the beginning of my discovery of a new passion—the entrepreneurial spirit within me began to emerge.
While some may not see an outsourced medical coding company as directly impacting patient care, I have always viewed it as a means of alleviating some of the administrative burdens faced by the clinical staff at the agency. By taking care of the coding and documentation audit tasks, it allows the agency to focus on providing quality care to their patients and their families. Despite having no prior business experience, I embarked on a journey of learning every day, navigating the intricacies of building a multi-million-dollar company through trials and errors. Over time, my venture grew to employ over 125 staff in the U.S. and more than 550 overseas, processing an impressive volume of over 124,000 medical records per month.
With the wealth of experiences and a professional network cultivated over the past quarter century, our next venture, Titan Health Corporation, is currently dedicated to creating several new solutions aimed at improving our healthcare system, whether directly or indirectly. Although I never fulfilled my original dream of becoming a flight nurse, I have discovered numerous other opportunities that fuel my passion for innovation in healthcare. I eagerly look forward to making a lasting impact on the healthcare system and the well-being of patients as I embark on this new chapter of my nursing career.
As we celebrate Nurses Month, I am grateful for the countless experiences, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped my journey thus far. Together, let us strive for innovation, bridge gaps in the healthcare system, and work towards a future where improved patient care and outcomes take center stage in our mission.