Dr. Linda Gray works at our Mesquite, Texas, campus. Linda joined the Carrington family in January this year. Prior to joining us she spent 10 years at Baylor University Medical Center; she worked in administration as a nurse manager for women’s health and gynecology, as well as managing the vascular access team.
Thanks for your time Dr. Gray; after 10 years at Baylor, what brought you to Carrington?
Education is something I really love, I am a lifelong learner. I’d been looking to change my career for several years, but I decided to stay in my position at Baylor until I was finished with school. I was working on my doctorate at the time; after I completed that I still had the desire to get back into education.
Why did you choose to become a nurse back in the day?
Although I wanted to be able to provide for my children, I didn’t go into nursing for the money. I was passionate about nursing. I didn’t have all the answers, but I knew I wanted to be a nurse.
How was your experience of nursing school?
When I started nursing school, I was a divorced mother of four children. I wasn’t a procrastinator, that doesn’t get you far. I didn’t have the money for school, but I had determination. I took out a loan, which covered my tuition. I had to pay attention in class and take really good notes, and I was always on the honor roll.
Did you have a good support system at school?
Defeat was never in my parents’ vocabulary, it was always “you can do it.” A support system is hugely important. I expect our students to have a passion, and use the support system they have. One thing that surprised me at Carrington was the ASPIRE program, I wish I’d had that.
What element of your experience has been most helpful at Carrington?
One of my greatest strengths is aligning to the visions and values of the organization I work for. When working with students, I’m very grounded, and make sure I check in with every single one of them, same with staff. This comes from the principles I learned at Baylor, as well as my time as executive director of a breast cancer center before that. Those positions combined helped me prepare for this role.
What do you do to ensure students are fully engaged in their program?
I try to meet them where they are and help them understand the goals of their program. I make sure they have good study habits and time management skills, and that they know how important it is to be where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. Good habits and behaviors like those will help them grow personally and professionally. Technical skills are, of course, also very important.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what changes have you noticed in women’s health care over the years?
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is obviously very important in increasing awareness of the disease. But while most people are aware of it, too many women forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. That aspect has improved in recent years, but we still have a long way to go.
Another thing that comes to mind is, what do women want from their healthcare? Research shows women want to partner with healthcare facilities and their physicians, they want to be a part of the process. We need to focus on more than just the 3 B’s: Breasts, Bones and Babies. Women don’t want to be subject to a series of exams and then go home without proper information on taking care of themselves. I’m very passionate about this topic.
What trends have you noticed in healthcare jobs recently?
Nursing informatics has experienced tremendous growth over the last three to five years. It’s a trend that continues to develop. It’s one of the major changes that has happened in healthcare, particularly for nurses. It’s something students need to be prepared for in the hospital setting, as well as in other community care settings. The home health setting, in conjunction with outpatient hospital care, is definitely a growing trend.
It’s always important to network; what healthcare connections do you maintain?
I’m part of an advisory board for the city of Mesquite; this board works with the developers who are planning and building hospitals in the area. They are building a children’s hospital and an overall acute care hospital. The hospitals are in the last phase, they’ll be completed at the end of 2016 or early 2017. I hope to get Carrington students to work at these hospitals.
I’m on the Baylor University Medical Center Pastoral Care Advisory Board. I agreed to continue to serve on the board as a volunteer after I left Baylor. I am also a member of the Council on Graduate Education for Administration in Nursing (CGEAN) and the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE).
Finally, what advice would you offer our students reading this?
Most important is to know what you want to do, and to believe in yourself. Always be dependable, stay focused on your educational goals, and do what it takes to get through.