Profiles in Nursing: Clinical Excellence presents Profiles in Nursing to provide insight to those curious about a career change or those just entering the workforce about the many career paths within the healthcare field. Our goal is to go deeper than a standard job description to reveal specifics on why people choose these careers, how they got there and why they stay. With this information, we hope visitors can choose a career that is both exciting and rewarding based on their personal strengths and desires.

In this profile, we meet Kathy from IL who is the Director of Clinical Excellence at a hospital. This speciality career within healthcare is extrememly important but information about it is not readily available to those interested in healthcare jobs. Kathy started out as a manager and worked her way up to director by showing her ability to lead and by taking steps to continue her education outside of work so she could qualify for advanced roles.

Our interview with Kathy below provides valuable information about this field.

What is your official job title?
Director of Clinical Excellence

Do you have professional credentials?
Yes, I am a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) and I am a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).

How many years have you been working in this profession?

What kind of health care setting do you work in? (i.e., hospital, clinic, academic, home care, etc)
I work in a hospital.

How did you know working in health care was what you wanted to do?
I spoke with a academic counselor at a community college to explore options. A career in the health care field, outside of nursing, was the best choice for me.

Describe your mentors that have helped you get to where you are today.
Teachers in the Health Information Management program, Professionals in the Quality Management field, including those in the nursing and health information management fields all played a role in helping me to guide my career.


What education path after high school did you take to enter the healthcare field?
Associate in Applied Science degree from a community college, and a Bachelors in Business in Health Administration degree from a private university.

What type of ongoing education is required for your job?
30 hours of continuing education every two years for both the CPHQ and RHIT credentials. To advance in a Quality Improvement role, continuous education to advance skills in implementation of quality improvement tools and techniques, including Lean Six Sigma, Project Management, and leadership development.

Have you taken any online courses to meet education requirements or on your own to improve your skills?
Yes, Lean Six Sigma certification from a well known university offering online education


Describe an average work day for you.
There is never an average day for a quality improvement professional. However, every day will focus on quality improvement projects, both clinical and non-clinical; data collection and analysis; leading and facilitating performance improvement team initiatives; and maintaining compliance with regulatory performance standards.

How many hours do you work in an average week?

What do you see as strengths needed for your career?
Good organizational skills, attention to detail, being analytical, having advanced communication and presentation skills, and excellent facilitation skills.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Achieving results and doing worthwhile work.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Meeting the demands of an ever-changing environment driven by external forces, and keeping pace with the dynamics of technology.


How important is your employer in achieving career satisfaction? What are employer attributes that job candidates should seek?
World class healthcare organizations create an environment where employees are extremely satisfied and feel their work is worthwhile. Job candidates should seek employers who encourage employees to advance their growth and self development to improve their skills with a focus on pursuing excellence in delivering high quality, safe heatlh care, and in exceeding customer expectations for service.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in your career?
Go for it! It is a wonderful, lifetime career with many opportunities to advance.

Any additional comments?
I think the Quality Improvement profession is one of those career choices that can launch an individual's career which can lead to many other unexpected or unanticipated paths in the healthcare field. It is an especially exciting time for this profession with healthcare reform on the horizon.

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