Featured TRUST Member
Beth Honkomp, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC. Beth joined the TRUST Board of Directors in 2016; her first term is scheduled to conclude in 2019.
As interviewed by TRUST Marketing & Communications Committee Member Susan Wiese
SW: Describe your current organization and present position.
BH: Currently I serve as the vice president for performance excellence for CentraCare Health. The organization includes six hospitals, six long-term care facilities, 21 clinics, three pharmacies and numerous inpatient and outpatient specialty care services.
My responsibilities include overseeing quality, patient safety, performance improvement, risk management, infection prevention and control, value analysis and clinical analytics, public reporting, regulatory compliance, grants acquisitions, and patient experience.
SW: How has your leadership role/position changed over time?
BH: I have been blessed with many opportunities to try new things and advance my leadership skills. This started within St. Cloud Hospital, and as the organization grew into what is now known as CentraCare Health, my roles and responsibilities grew with it.
As a staff nurse, I joined the St. Cloud Hospital in 1978. At that time my husband, Ken, was already employed at the hospital; today he continues to work in the hospital as a recovery room nurse.
A major milestone and turning point in my nursing career came when I was named the care center director of the hospital’s Surgery and Special Care Center, an area in which I did not have deep clinical experience. In this role, I was responsible for the strategic direction of the care center, served as a liaison to surgeons, anesthesiologists and physicians, and managed, directly or indirectly, 500 employees.
I learned that I could transfer my leadership abilities from my previous position, where I had a lot of experience, to an area that was unfamiliar to me. In this new role, I discovered firsthand how one could have influence across an entire organization. The position also opened my eyes to the idea that influence is far more important than authority in bringing about organizational change.
From Surgery and Special Care Services, in 2007, I made a conscious decision to move to quality, safety and performance improvement within the hospital and eventually for CentraCare Health. Now, alongside George Morris, MD, vice president, performance excellence and a family physician, I co-lead the performance excellence division across the CentraCare Health system.
As a co-vice president in performance excellence, my job is to make certain CentraCare is meeting the needs of the community by delivering the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.
If I were to look in a rearview mirror at the career path I have traveled, I would not see a learning curve; rather, it has been a learning trajectory with continuous upward momentum.
SW: Have you ever been mentored?
BH: My mentor, both personally and professionally, is Linda Chmielewski, former vice president for hospital operations and chief nursing officer at the St. Cloud Hospital. It was Linda who initially hired me to be an educator for critical care.
In Linda, I found a strong leader. She impressed upon me that as a leader, when working with a team or group of individuals, it is not necessary at the outset to be the voice for the group. Rather, she advised, it can be prudent to let others take the lead. This gives me time to listen, to follow the discussions and thought processes, and then to formulate my own opinion only after hearing the voices of many others.
SW: What career advice do you have to share?
BH: While I was fortunate to have been able to advance my career within a single organization, I don’t think this is feasible anymore. So, if you want to reshape your career or take a career turn, look outside your organization for opportunities.
Second, strive for balance. Look for balance in your work, your professional interests and your family. As a wife, mother of three, and grandmother of six, it is important to know what truly matters most to you.
SW: What intrigues or inspires you?
BH: Throughout my professional life, I have been involved in patient care. Knowing that we have wonderfully skilled people who deliver the best possible care is inspiring. I love to hear stories from our patients whose lives we have touched in a significant and meaningful way.
CentraCare Health and St. Cloud Hospital, in particular, have repeatedly been recognized for the quality of care we deliver. While I am no longer at the bedside, I am able to influence the quality of care we provide and this inspires me, too.
SW: What words of wisdom would you like to share with the TRUST membership?
BH: Know your core values. Find an employer whose vision, mission, purpose, and approach mirror your personal values. If the company values are not a good fit for you, move on.
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