What is your educational background?
Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Juris Doctorate, and post-doctorate Master of Healthcare Law (LL.M.)
Did you know you wanted to go into the risk profession? If not, what was your journey to get here?
I knew I wanted to be a lawyer to help others who did not otherwise have a voice. I thought that meant legal aid, helping children and those of economic status who could not otherwise afford representation. In law school I did that, but I also took a course called Law & Medicine. I became interested in the idea of advocating not only for patient safety, but for the providers who were treating patients to be educated about safe practice. I learned that risk management is a way to do both. I started out in law firms, but early in my carrier I began working within my former clients’ systems on risk and claims management. Eventually I became a director of litigation at a large hospital system in Texas, and ultimately the chief risk officer at the academic medical practice of the University of Oklahoma, OU Medicine.
How long have you been working in the risk profession?
25 years as a lawyer in law firms, in-house, and ultimately leading risk management the last 13 years.
What do you love most about what you do?
Helping patients and providers understand, mitigate, and in many cases eliminate risk through process and policy. I love the patients and their incredible stories of overcoming challenges, and I love the providers whose hearts and minds are dedicated to excellent patient care. Everyone has aligned goals, so there are only rare times when adversarial relationships exist. We can all be on the same team!
Has managing risk changed over the course of your career? If so, how?
It has become more about education and process and understanding that humans are not perfect. Process and non-punitive retraining are key.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to start their career in the risk profession?
Choose an industry – whether it is healthcare, agriculture, energy, or whatever you’re interested in, and find out all you can about it. Decide to become not only an expert at risk mitigation techniques, but also have a broad, and continually deeper knowledge of the underlying risk. It is one of the few professions where you can practice in an area you do not specialize in, but you are a critically important team member.
Do you have a personal motto? If so, what is it?
Keep leaning on the closed doors. Don’t turn around, and don’t kick them open, but keep leaning and they will eventually open.