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Leadership Live Brings Alumni and Students Together

Leadership LIVE is a student leadership development program that consists of a series of workshops, special events and community service opportunities throughout the year. The program is guided by a philosophy of leadership, mission statement, student learning outcomes and leadership curriculum. Leadership LIVE includes students from the Jefferson Schools of Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy and Population Health. In this panel current Jefferson students learned about different career paths and how decisions and experiences affect your job position and success. Alumni shared their career biographies and met with Leadership Live participants in small groups after the panel to answer specific questions.

Alumni from the Jefferson Schools of Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy participated this year providing guidance and career advice for current students. The 2012 Leadership Live Alumni Panel included everyone listed below. Click the name of the alumni to read their career biography.

Louise Baca, RN, MSN, School of Nursing (’02)
First job title after graduation: Oncology Clinical Research Manager

Current job title: Administrator, Kennedy Radiation Oncology Program/Kennedy Cancer Program, Kennedy University Health System

Career Path Highlights: Louise’s career highlights include serving as the Chapter President of STTI for two consecutive terms and serving as the Chapter President of the Southern Jersey Shore Chapter of ONS.

What additional certification(s) or education did you pursue? After receiving her BSN from Thomas Jefferson University in 2002, she pursued becoming a Research Professional, her MSN in Nursing Leadership & Administration at Drexel University, and one year in the Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) program in 2009.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?
Affiliations: National Student Nursing Association (NSNA); New Jersey State Nursing Association (NJSNA);
Sigma Theta Tau (STTI); Oncology Nursing Society (ONS).

What types of leadership roles have you taken on, whether formal or informal?

  • President, Southern Jersey Shore Oncology Nursing Society
  • Chair, Wellness Symposium for Oncology Nurses, EHT, NJ
  • Chair, Best of ONS Congress Annual Conference, Philadelphia PA
  • Board of Trustees Secretary, Every Breath Counts Foundation, Somers Point, NJ
  • President-Elect, Oncology Nursing Society, Southern Jersey Shore Chapter
  • President, Sigma Theta Tau, Theta Sigma Chapter, Pomona, NJ
  • Co-Chair, Best of ONS Congress Conference, Philadelphia PA
  • President-Elect, Sigma Theta Tau, Theta Sigma Chapter, Pomona, NJ
  • Secretary, Southern Jersey Shore Oncology Nursing Society (SJS ONS)
  • Planning Committee, New Jersey Consortium, Sigma Theta Tau
  • Planning Committee, Tri State Consortium, Sigma Theta Tau
  • Webmaster, Southern Jersey Shore Chapter Oncology Nursing Society
  • Newsletter Editor, Theta Sigma News, Theta Sigma Chapter
  • President, Sigma Theta Tau, Theta Sigma Chapter, Pomona, NJ
  • President Elect, Sigma Theta Tau, Theta Sigma Chapter, Pomona, NJ
  • Delegate, Sigma Theta Tau 36th Biennial Convention, Indianapolis, IN
  • Chapter Leader Academy, Sigma Theta Tau, Indianapolis, IN
  • ONS Mentorship Weekend, Pittsburgh, PA

What is the best career advice you have received?
When Louise was a second year nursing student preparing for exams her first mentor told her, “You know more than you think you know.” Louise was told if you think you can’t do it, you may be right….but if you think you can you usually can. Therefore, don’t be afraid to go beyond your norm and step out of the box.

What is the most unique interview experience you’ve had?

Louise’s most unique interview experience was for her current position. She had a second interview after meeting the Vice President of Ambulatory services. She was asked to arrive at 9:00am and to block off the whole day for the interview. Upon arrival, she was brought to a board room and told that she would be interviewed every half hour by eight to ten different members of the organization (from the Administrative Assistant of the Radiation department to the COO of the organization!). As Louise sat there waiting for the first interviewer, she was terrified and thought “what have I just gotten myself into??” But by the last interview, she realized she was absolutely fine….a bit exhausted but feeling wonderful. And the rest is history…she got the job!

Special Note: Louise was the recipient of the Jefferson Alumni Emerging Leader Award in 2009. The Emerging Leader Award recognizes a Jefferson graduate who, early in his or her career but at least five years following graduation, has made significant contributions in research, leadership in professional organizations, community service, or any other significant professional accomplishments. Read more
Cindy Caldwell, OTR/L, Department of Occupational Therapy (’92)
First job title after graduation:
Cindy’s first job after graduation was as a Staff Occupational Therapist at
Abington Memorial Hospital, where she completed her level 2 fieldwork.
This job gave her experience in acute care, inpatient rehab and outpatient care.

Current job title:
Cindy and her husband run a company, Adaptive Living Solutions, which provides home modifications for disabilities. She continues to work part-time as a staff OT in home care and has a per diem position for Genesis in long term care and skilled nursing facilities.

Career Path Highlights:

One of Cindy’s career path highlights is starting a business with her husband in 2005. They saw a strong need for linking the knowledge of a client’s functional ability with the physical completion of a home’s modifications. Cindy provides consulting for the modifications and her husband serves as the contractor, doing the renovations.

Cindy has enjoyed working as a staff therapist and never pursued the change into management, mostly due to an interest in working with clients and working part-time to be available for her children. Her best experiences, or highlights, are the small moments she has when she makes a connection to the patient and helps them to be safer and more independent at home.

What additional certification(s) or education did you pursue?
Cindy holds two certificates in home modifications. One is an Executive Certificate in Home Modifications through the University of Southern California. The other is a certificate program through IDEAS, Inc., which includes four separate courses addressing Home Modifications for Motor Impairment, Dementia, Risk for Falls, and Sensory Impairment.

Cindy is also trained as a coach for the Matter of Balance fall prevention program through St. Mary's Medical Center. This is a volunteer position which she hopes will develop into a future specialty for developing fall prevention programs and awareness.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?

Cindy is currently a board member for the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association in District V. This has helped her contribute to her local association and have a better appreciation for how professional associations help substantiate the profession.

What types of leadership roles have you taken on, whether formal or informal?

Cindy’s most significant leadership role entails starting and running her home modification business. To do this she had to develop a business and marketing plan. Cindy and her husband are also continuously facilitating their business relationships with clients to ensure they are meeting the clients’ needs and fostering referrals.

In addition to running her business, Cindy serves as an advisor on the Bucks County Council for Individuals with Disabilities and is currently assisting in the development of a non-profit organization for Aging in Place.

Who inspires you and why?
Cindy’s patients inspire her. She is inspired by people who have suffered a disability for years and, yet, still worry about others over themselves. She is inspired when a 90+ year old Vietnamese man, who suffered as a POW for 20 years, still has a smile on his face. And she is inspired when a woman who has survived the German concentration camps gives her advice on what is really important in life. Working in home care gives her the opportunity to visit a patient’s home, see their family pictures and get to know them past their "diagnosis".

What is the best career advice you have received?
Do what makes you happy; do a job because you make a difference. Read more
Daniel A. Merton, BS, RDMS, FSDMS, FAIUM, BS - Diagnostic Imaging/Sonography ‘88
First job title after graduation:
Staff Sonographer at TJUH

Current job title:
Technical Coordinator of Research at TJUH

Career path highlights:
Dan migrated from clinical work into part-time research then full-time research. Prior to his becoming the “Research Sonographer,” there was no formal position of this kind. Dan has been employed at TJUH since 1985. When asked about what keeps him engaged, he notes that the very nature of his work involves research which is always challenging, exciting and new. Dan takes pride in conducting research that directly benefits patients and improves healthcare.

Prior to college, Dan served in the United States Navy. His military experience contributed greatly to his career path and to his leadership development. It also taught him that some of the day-to-day challenges he may face in his current position, like being on call at night or dealing with criticism, pale in comparison to the hardships associated with military service.

What additional certification(s) or education did you pursue?
Dan pursues the CMEs required to maintain his credentials.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?
Dan notes his active involvement with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), and Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) as impacting his professional development. Dan’s leadership in these professional associations began by simply volunteering. Advice he gives to future professionals is to not be apprehensive about getting involved in professional societies. Even if you don’t yet know what your contribution can be, your willingness to contribute and the time you commit will go a long way. He notes that professional organizations are always in need of new, energetic professionals who have a willingness to help guide the field in the future. Dan has found that volunteering within professional societies is both personally and professionally rewarding.

What types of leadership roles have you taken on, whether formal or informal?
Dan’s professional leadership involvement over the years is extensive. A few highlights include:
• Board of Directors for the ARDMS
• Board of Governors Member for the AIUM
• Chair of the ARDMS’s Exam Development Committee
• Chair of the SDMS’s Ultrasound Contrast Media and IV Insertion Techniques Task Force
• Chair of the ARDMS’s Physics and Instrumentation Examination Development Task Force

Who inspires you and why?

Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson and other notable inventors inspire Dan because they wanted to identify better ways to do things or find solutions for problems. They were not afraid to “think outside the box".

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

Dan remembers being told, “Always do the best you can even if you don’t think anyone is noticing - because they are.”

What is the strangest interview question you were asked?
This one!

Special Note:
Dan was the recipient of the Jefferson Alumni Emerging Leader Award in 2002 and the Alumni Special Achievement Award in 2009. The Special Achievement Award recognizes a graduate of the School who has made a significant contribution to his or her profession in the areas of education, research, or community service that reflects favorably on Jefferson as that person’s alma mater. Read more
Ilene Rothblat, MS, CT(ASCP), IAC, Laboratory Sciences (Cytotechnology) ‘82
First job title after graduation:
Staff Cytotechnologist, Damon Clinical Laboratories

Current job title:

Six Sigma Black Belt, Quest Diagnostics

Career Path Highlights:
Early in her career Ilene held staff cytotechnologist positions at Damon Clinical Laboratories, Germantown Hospital, and Hahnemann University Hospital. In 1988 she started supervising cytotechnologists at Pennsylvania Hospital, where she was also responsible for resident and student education and interdepartmental conferences. Her supervisory career continued at Smithkline Beecham where she was responsible for all Cytology and Histology staff during the pre-analytic, analytic, and post analytic processes. In 2000 she moved to Quest Diagnostics where she oversaw all Cytotechnologists, Lab Assistants, and Anatomic Pathology Client Services. After studying the Six Sigma management strategy Ilene became a Six Sigma Black Belt in 2008 and leads projects involving anatomic pathology, warehouse, client services, sales, patient services, logistics, and specimen processing at Quest Diagnostics.

What additional certification(s) or education did you pursue?
Ilene earned her MS in Health Care Administration in 1990 from St. Joseph’s University. She also earned a certification through the International Academy of Cytology.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?
Ilene has been involved with the American Society of Cytotechnology (ASC), International Academy of Cytology (IAC), Women In Leadership, and American Society for Quality (ASQ)

What types of leadership roles have you taken on, whether formal or informal?
• Supervisor, Cytology - Pennsylvania Hospital & Quest Diagnostics
• Supervisor, Anatomic Pathology - SmithKline Beecham Clinical Labs
• Six Sigma Black Belt (leader for interdepartmental projects)
• QuestCares Coordinator, Employee Volunteer Program - Quest Diagnostics
• MLK Day Leader - Delaware Valley Interfaith Council (DVIC)
• Board positions - Delaware Valley Society of Cytology

Who inspires you and why?
Ilene is inspired by people who overcome adversity in their lives and by people who don't take life too seriously, enjoying each moment. She feels that when life and work get you down it is a gift to be able to put things in perspective.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Early on Ilene was told it is important to participate in professional organizations and teams because both offer networking opportunities and visibility. Also, it is helpful to lead and be part of projects outside of your comfort zone to build your skills.

What is the most unique interview experience you’ve had?
Ilene has a hard time with behavioral based questions, such as, “Tell me a time when you were frustrated...had a deadline to worked with someone with different work ethics than yourself”...etc. Read more
Brian Swift, PharmD, MBA, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science ‘85
First job title after graduation:
Registered Pharmacist for the University of Pennsylvania

Current job title:
Vice President / Chief of Pharmacy and Accreditation, TJUH and Associate Dean of Professional Affairs, Jefferson School of Pharmacy

Career Path Highlights:
When Brian completed his doctoral program and received his PharmD in 1985, the concept of homecare was just emerging. Managed care and long-term drug therapy were at odds. The opportunity to come to TJUH to establish what has become to be known as the Jefferson Health System Home Care Network was timely and a perfect fit for Brian’s educational background and personal interests. Having had a unique childhood experience, often assisting in his father’s home-based pediatrician’s office, Brian felt he had the education and experience to positively benefit the patients of a homecare program. Brian accomplished this task with insight from UPENN’s Ambulatory Care Program and an enthusiastic team of practitioners at TJUH.

Brian has been involved in the TJUH Homecare program from the ground up. Before taking on a new role as the Vice President and Chief of Pharmacy and Accreditation, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
and Associate Dean of Professional Affairs, Jefferson School of Pharmacy, he oversaw 100 employees who managed a complicated in-home therapy program. His work is highly respected. Among other speaking engagements, Brian has even had the unique experience of lecturing in Stockholm, Sweden!

What additional certification(s) or education did you pursue?
Brian earned a CPR certification and his MBA, became a Joint Commission Surveyor and a KAPE Examiner and took additional classes in Nutrition Support.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?
• American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP)
• National Home Infusion Association (NHIA)
• American Society of Perenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN)
• Joint Commission
• University Health System Consortium (UHC)

What types of leadership roles have you taken on, whether formal or informal?
• ASHP - first Chair of ASHP’s Section of Home Care Practitioners’ plus various committee work.
• NHIA - Sub Vice Chair of the Standards Committee
• Joint Commission-Surveyor, Technical Advisory Committee (Home Care Section)
• Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence Examiner
• President of the Home School Association
• Technology Committee
• CYO charity work
• Little League coach
• Involved in church activities including Parish Council and Stewardship Committee

Who inspires you and why?
Brian indicates that he was inspired by his grandmother, who has said, “‘can’t do’ means ‘don’t want’ and neither one has a home.”

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

Brian’s best career advice came from his parents who always advised him to buckle down, work hard, and do the right thing.

What is the most unique interview experience you’ve had?
Once Brian interviewed a woman who, in the midst of conversation, stated she had a gun in her purse. Needless to say, Brian did not choose to hire her. Read more
Kim Wallace, PT, MSPT, Department of Physical Therapy (’92)
First job title after graduation:
Kim worked at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia as a Staff Physical Therapist. They gave her a scholarship for her last year of graduate school in return for working in the VA system for a year.

Current job title:
In May 2011, Kimberly took on the role of Director of Ancillary Services & Organizational Development at the Rothman Institute. She also serves as a Managing Partner for Excel Consulting Crew, which is a company providing practical practice management tools, skills and techniques for healthcare companies.

Career Path Highlights:
Kim has had quite a few career highlights. First, she specialized in spine treatment while working with John Barbis, a previous Orthopedic Professor at Thomas Jefferson. In 1997 she was promoted to a management level position that led to multi-center operational oversight of a company that merged and acquired physical therapy practices. Not long after, she was recruited to set up a contractual physical therapy site at the Rothman Institute in 2000. In 2001 she was promoted to Senior Vice President of Excel Physical Therapy. Recently, she was asked to join the Rothman Institute to oversee both Ancillary Services and Organizational Development. The organizational development aspect allows her to work on process-improvement and overall patient and employee satisfaction within the organization.

What additional certification(s) or education did you pursue?
Kim is certified in the McKenzie Approach (Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment).

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?
Kim feels that both the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association (PPTA) are excellent resources for current events in the field.

What types of leadership roles have you taken on, whether formal or informal?
Kim previously served as the Senior Vice President of Operations for Excel Physical Therapy, where she was fiscally responsible for the operations of a 13 site physical therapist-owned outpatient orthopedic practice. She was responsible for standardizing operations and optimizing the clinical skills of staff throughout the organization. During her tenure she oversaw two mergers for the company as well.

Prior to her work at Excel, Kim served as the Director of Clinical Operations at Community Rehab Centers where her work entailed oversight of physical and occupational therapists in 17 regional outpatient facilities in the southeastern Pennsylvania region. Her role included staff development, clinical quality assurance, and regulatory compliance.

In her current role as the Director of Organizational Development at the Rothman Institute, Kim oversees staff development and training, service excellence, and continued development of the overall corporate culture. Kim finds it to be a fun and creative role that aids the development of new programs and ideas and allows her to have an overall positive influence on the entire company. Kim also serves as the Director of Ancillary Services, which includes oversight of Physical Therapy, Hand Therapy, X-ray, MRI, Orthotics/DME and Wellness Services.

Who inspires you and why? One person that inspires Kim is her current CEO, Mike West. Kim indicates he is an excellent leader who is a visionary and shrewd negotiator, yet has compassion for employees and his company. He leads by example with a strong work ethic and excellent roll-up-your-sleeves attitude. His philosophy is to hire for attitude and train for skill and he has a no-lay-off policy, which is a bold statement in this economy today. Mike inspires his staff to work for results and get things done!

What is the best career advice you have received?
Kim stresses it is important to develop the ability to network. She feels it is the key to creating future opportunities for yourself and you never know what that might mean until you look back! Read more
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