The women selected for the Class of 2017 are dedicated, talented, passionate, smart, collaborative innovators. In short, they are people we want to watch as leaders in their respective fields modeling ways to create a more efficient, effective healthcare system. The 10 women honored this year represent the village required to deliver quality care across the continuum in a highly complex, heavily regulated industry. Provider, payer, researcher, consultant, executive, industry advocate, design innovator, strategic planner, program director, educator, lifelong learner, problem solver, leader, mentor … no single title describes these women who willingly wear the many hats necessary to create transformative change in American healthcare. Generous with their expertise and energy, these incredible women also serve on numerous community boards and industry organizations. Despite busy days, they find the time to mentor the next generation of healthcare professionals. They are unafraid to address the big issues. They lead by example. And they never forget the work they do has an impact on patients. For these … and a host of other reasons … the Class of 2017 is truly made up of women to watch. — Susan Graham & Cindy Sanders, Publishers, Nashville Medical News
Lucy Carter, CPA Member & Practice Leader, Healthcare Industry Team KraftCPAs PLLC Lucy Carter specialized in healthcare accounting before such a thing really existed in Nashville. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, the Hendersonville native returned home to begin her career. “When I became a partner in a small local firm, the managing partner looked at me and said, ‘You’ll head up our Medical Services Department.’ I said, ‘Great … we don’t have one,’” Carter recalled with a chuckle. “He recognized my passion for healthcare and the opportunity that existed in developing a specialty area to serve the medical profession.” From the beginning, Carter wanted to develop services that would improve the profession. “Not just accounting and tax,” she explained, “but consulting services that would provide a bridge between business knowledge and the practice of healthcare.” The only problem … there simply weren’t many resources available to help her get started. “I came across a twoday seminar on practice management at Vanderbilt for the medical residents offered by the Nashville Academy of Medicine,” Carter said. She contacted Raymond Sklar, who was director of NAM at that time, to ask if she could attend.
Her presence at the conference was certainly an anomaly. “It was me in a suit, and everyone else was in white coats. They asked us to give our name and specialty. When I said ‘Lucy Carter, CPA,’ everyone just froze,” she said with a laugh. The foresight of Sklar to welcome her to the conference – and then to become an ongoing resource regarding the business of medicine – helped lay the groundwork for Carter’s success as she has grown into one of the city’s most respected and knowledgeable healthcare accountants and consultants. A founder of Carter Lankford CPAs, which specialized in healthcare accounting, Carter joined KraftCPAs after her former partner retired in 2015. Kraft was already deeply immersed in the industry through the affiliated Kraft Healthcare Consulting led by Scott Mertie, and Carter has only enhanced the firm’s expertise by creating a specialized industry group within the main firm. “It’s a cross-discipline team with specialists in healthcare embedded in each of the other areas like tax or audit,” Carter explained. She added it’s critical to have people who truly understand the intricacies of such a highly regulated, constantly
changing industry in place. “Helping our clients navigate changes and assisting them in staying clear of regulatory landmines is a constant challenge,” she noted. However, it’s a challenge she and her team are happy to meet so that physicians and industry leaders are free to focus on patients. “I love my clients – the hardworking, dedicated and compassionate providers of healthcare,” Carter said. “My job is to reduce frustration and anxiety so that our clients can concentrate on what they love – healing.” Whether undertaking a simple accounting task or redesigning processes and workflow to achieve greater efficiency and profitability, Carter said she is mindful that business decisions ultimately have an impact on patients. “Being part of the healthcare profession is an honor and a privilege that I don’t take lightly,” she explained. “I am passionate about providing solutions to make a positive difference in the business side of medicine. I am also passionate about client service and responsiveness. Fortunately, I’m blessed to work with a great team that shares my passion and values.” Outside of work, Carter noted simply, “My family is my heart.” Between she and
husband Kirk, who is battling a progressive illness, the couple has four grown children and three grandsons. “We really like to be together cooking, eating, playing games,” she said, adding the whole family loves sports, as well. Carter is also actively involved in the community. She sits on the boards of Junior Achievement and the Nashville Medical Group Management Association, is a member of the Rotary Club of Nashville, and sings in her church choir. No matter how busy the workday, she makes sure there is always time for the friends, family and outside interests that round out a fulfilling life. “As I tell the younger team members, don’t miss important moments. You don’t get do-overs in life. Love lavishly.”
Jennifer Domm, MD, MSCI Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist & Medical Director TriStar Medical Group Children’s Specialists Finding joy in the journey could be Jennifer Domm’s professional and personal motto. As a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, she forms incredibly strong bonds with patients and families, even while knowing that not every child will survive. Those relationships, she noted, do not end even if a loved patient dies. “The most challenging part of the job, of course, is suffering, death and dying,” she said. However, she continued, “I can make the journey through this diagnosis the best it can be. My role is to help families through the good and the bad and support them through difficult decisions. I am very fortunate to have found something I love.” Growing up in Long Island, Domm wasn’t sure exactly what field would spark that passion but knew it would somehow relate to science or math. “I tried out many different areas throughout my undergraduate career and felt most at home when I was working with people,” she said. “I truly felt a draw to help people and found that the best way I could put my strengths to work was to directly interact with patients and their families as a physician.” Having vacationed in Nashville with
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Vice Chair Department of Pediatrics The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial
her family during childhood, she had fond memories of the area and was excited to be accepted to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Throughout her training at Vanderbilt, Domm said she found herself connecting with pediatricians, and specifically those in pediatric hematology and oncology. “The late Dr. John Lukens, a pioneer in pediatric oncology, was an early and consistent mentor, as was Dr. James Whitlock,” she said of two role models during her training. Another influence throughout her career has been mentor, and now partner, Haydar Frangoul, MD. “I have always tried to mirror their dedication, empathy, work ethic, and enthusiasm,” she said. In 2015, Domm and Frangoul left Vanderbilt to establish the pediatric hematology/oncology and stem cell transplant program at The Children’s Hospital at Tri-Star Centennial. Domm said she is invigorated by how rapidly the field is changing. “Standard of care practices are quickly evolving with new drugs and new technology to treat primary disease,” she pointed out. Domm is particularly excited about new options for stem cell transplantation, including haploidentical transplant that allows for half-matched bone
marrow transplants in the wake of advances in immune suppression, chemotherapy protocols and supportive care to minimize rejection and infection. Such advances mean more happy endings. “The absolute best part of the field is the enduring relationships that I establish with patients and their families,” she said. “I love to see the children grow and build their own lives.” Those lifelong connections mean Domm has been to many fundraisers, end-ofchemo parties, graduations, and weddings. “Sometimes these patients pursue careers in medicine themselves,” she continued, “and I am always excited about being their mentor. It’s fun because then you have a relationship with them that is different from doctor/patient.” Just as she explored a number of fields and interests before finding her niche, Domm said the best advice she can give to those she mentors is to seek out as many different experiences and opportunities as possible to find the best match. “Medicine is a lifestyle and not just a career or job,” she noted. “It is imperative that you choose something that your are passionate about and love to do.” Her passion lies with continuing to build the pediatric hematology/oncology program
at The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial, including a goal of expanding the stem cell program by offering transplant to both malignant and non-malignant patients. “I would also like to expand pediatric patients’ access to unique clinical trials through the relationship we have with Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute,” she said. When she isn’t working or with patients and families, Domm looks for joy in her own journeys – which often take her across the globe to experience new places and cultures. “I love to explore unusual destinations,” she said of vacations planned. “My most recent trip was to the Southeast Asian island country of Sri Lanka.” A seasoned traveler, Domm knows not every destination is idyllic … whether traversing a foreign country or navigating cancer … but there is beauty in every journey.
Amy Johnston Little, MBA Executive Director, Dual Eligible Special Needs Population UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee Everyone needs an advocate. Throughout her career, Amy Johnston Little has given voice to those who often go unheard and unseen. “I have always had a passion for serving people and focusing on those who are marginalized,” she explained. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Johnston Little’s earliest mentors were her parents, both counselors. “I knew I wanted a career in the mental health or social work arena,” she said of lessons learned at home. After earning a degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and becoming certified in addiction counseling, she began her career as a corrections counselor managing a pre-release population and working with probationers and parolees. She helped develop work and life skills, along with relapse prevention plans, to give individuals the best opportunity to reintegrate into society clean, sober and prepared. “After seven years, I decided to switch focus, driven by a desire to work closer with the elderly and those experiencing healthcare disparities,” Johnston Little explained. Moving into healthcare, she joined the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). “I focused on our Medicare and
dual eligible population using my energy to address the socioeconomic barriers that prevented them from fully utilizing healthcare services and taking care of their physical well-being,” she noted. Johnston Little credited Beth Ann Broudy, her direct manager at UPMC, with inspiring a desire to not only impact the plan’s members but also her colleagues. “She challenged me to stretch my potential and go back to school to achieve my MBA,” Johnston Little recalled. It’s a decision she has never regretted. After working in corporate leadership roles for a number of years in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Kentucky, Johnston Little was thrilled by the opportunity to join UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee “to recapture the connection with the local community.” She noted, “The ability to blend socioeconomic responsibility and target social deprivation while providing healthcare resources to those most in need of preventive medicine has been … and continues to be … an incredibly rewarding experience.” She also relished the opportunity to use both her clinical and business background to address the unique challenges of serving dual-eligible special needs members. “By nature, the DSNP population tends
to be more transient and often difficult to reach. As a result, we need to work as a team to ensure we continue to develop creative ways of getting the messages around preventive care and healthy lifestyles to the population,” she explained. Collaborating across the state, Johnston Little said her team works with community providers and social service agencies to engage those most in need where they are in the local community. “One of the most rewarding partnerships I have been privileged to be a part of is with Healthy Tennessee and Second Harvest Food Bank.” Bridging the gap between good nutrition and food insecurities, UnitedHealthcare funds more than 75 mobile food pantries annually. At a recent Knoxville event, UHC and ProHealth teamed up with Healthy Tennessee and Second Harvest to provide free health screenings to members, along with the uninsured and underinsured. UHC volunteers and medical personnel from Vanderbilt and Meharry working through Healthy Tennessee cared for more than 300 during the day and handed out approximately 18,000 pounds of food, including fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy. “These large-scale community events bring together the essence of social determinants and work at a basic level to address hu-
man needs, providing a platform to start the transition into a healthier life,” she said. A passion for giving back runs in the family. Married to The Rev. Terence Johnston, an Anglican priest with the Church of the Redeemer, the couple is active within their parish and the community, including volunteering with Room at the Inn and animal rescue groups. Any spare time is spent outdoors with three rescue dogs roaming their 11-acre farm just 30 minutes from downtown. “Having grown up in the country, it is our little slice of heaven in Nashville,” Johnston Little said with a big smile. “Every day is a gift,” she concluded of her busy, full life. “And if I am fortunate enough to be given the opportunity, my hope is that I will get to be a part of continued healthcare innovation, offering affordable care to all persons.”
Lisa Kachnic, MD, FASTRO Professor & Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology Vanderbilt University Medical Center & Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Lisa Kachnic’s road to becoming a renowned researcher and radiation oncologist began with a little divine intervention. “During my Catholic high school years in New York, my passions were journalism, science, music and sports,” Kachnic said. One day, the school’s principal, Sister Mary Margaret, summoned the top 10 academic students to her office. “We were placed against the wall akin to a police lineup. Sister Mary Margaret then tapped each of us with her long ruler and assigned our lifelong vocations. I happened to be anointed the ‘physician’ of the group,” Kachnic explained with a grin. Although the proclamation scuttled her plans to become a big city news anchor … or even better, an MTV VJ … she dutifully dug into her new career and found she loved it. Kachnic excelled in the lab and began extracting and analyzing DNA while still in high school, refining her work as a research scholar during undergrad at Boston College, medical school at Tufts and residency at Harvard. “In my third year of medical school, I was on an oncology rotation where I met a fellow medical student who thought I might be very interested in a career in radiation oncology because he knew that I was especially fond of the lab, enjoyed surgi-
cal procedures and loved taking care of patients with cancer,” she said. Instantly hooked on her specialty, Kachnic credits a number of mentors for meaningfully impacting her career. An early, and continuing, role model was Anthony Zietman, MD, associate director of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Residency Program. Kachnic said he stressed the radiation oncologist’s role was so much more than pushing a radiation machine button to destroy cancer cells. Instead, he counseled, the most effective way to contribute to care is to address the whole patient and learn what is most valued by that patient and their family. “I’ve embraced this important lesson throughout my career and strive to share these skills with our future generations of radiation oncologists,” she said. Internationally recognized for her clinical trial leadership, much of her work has focused on gastrointestinal cancers. In addition to research and clinical roles, she has been active within professional organizations throughout her career and currently serves as president of the American Board of Radiology. Having spent close to 15 years at Boston University, where she was department chair, Kachnic made the move to
Vanderbilt in the fall of 2015. Not quite sure what to make of Nashville after spending her whole life in the Northeast, uncertainty was swept away after stepping on campus at the academic medical center. “They were just so real and collegial,” she said of that first meeting at Vanderbilt. “To find such engaged leadership who worked with all their department heads was refreshing.” A big music and sports fan, Kachnic and her family also quickly warmed to the city’s diverse live music scene and embraced the Predators as proud residents of Smashville. She is married to Stephen Englert, a NCAA Division I baseball coach, and mother of Samantha ‘Sammi’ Englert, who recently graduated from Pitzer College. With her husband coaching in the Cape Cod league in the summer, the family makes lots of trips back and forth between their two hometowns. While the 5 am Monday return flight to Nashville might be a bit rough, Kachnic is ready to tackle a long list of priorities as soon as the wheels touch down. Excited over the advances in immunotherapy, she is exploring the impact of radiation on the immune response. “Here at Vanderbilt, we are now studying the interrelationship between radiation and the immune environ-
ment,” she explained. “One of the compelling attractions for my joining the faculty at Vanderbilt was the unique opportunity to discover the answer to this important question.” On a personal level, she is also developing a national clinical trial to evaluate vaccine therapy for anal cancer and leading her department’s work investigating how novel imaging technologies could allow radiation oncologists to better understand real-time responses to further personalize treatment. “While I’m not optimistic that we will find the ‘magic cure’ for all cancer types in my career, I am certain that we will make great strides in further improving cancer outcomes and quality of survivorship. “Taking care of cancer patients is a distinct privilege,” Kachnic concluded.
Women to Watch
Linda Marzialo, AIA, ACHA President & CEO Gould Turner Group, PC Linda Marzialo has spent most of her professional career in healthcare … but not in the way she originally intended. “Most of my life, including all the way through undergrad, I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” Marzialo explained. “Somewhere in that process, though, I realized I longed for a more creative outlet. My desire to merge science, math and art led me to architecture … and architecture in Nashville led me to healthcare architecture.” Originally from New York, she arrived in Nashville at the age of 17 to attend Vanderbilt University where she majored in physics and minored in math. Her plan was to go to medical school before that fateful art elective made her completely rethink her future. After graduation, she began to look for any type of job with area architecture firms to see if that’s where her heart truly was. Marzialo enrolled in Nashville State at night to take drafting classes and landed a minimum wage delivery job with a firm that allowed her to come in on weekends to draw. As she continued to hone her skills, Marzialo completed apprenticeships and passed all her boards the first time to become a licensed architect. During the process, she landed a full-
time drafting job, and then began to coordinate projects, and then to run them. “I kept getting promoted. This really was something I was meant to do,” she said. Arriving at Gould Turner in 1980, Marzialo became a registered architect in 1985. She was made partner not long after Mike Gould left the firm for health reasons. “When Steve retired in 2005, I became president and CEO. I tell people here I’ve had every job there is in a firm from the very, very bottom to the top. I think it gives me a unique perspective.” She credits Mike Gould and Steve Turner for being willing to take a chance on her, but it’s an investment that continues to pay dividends by keeping alive the founders’ vision to create functional, beautiful, healing spaces. Under Marzialo’s leadership, the architectural, interior design and planning firm consistently ranks among the top 50 healthcare design firms in the nation. Marzialo said Gould was an extraordinary healthcare architect. “Mike was a terrific role model for me in terms of professional practice, developing client relationships and in understanding healthcare design,” she said. That solid foundation has helped her embrace the complex and dynamic nature
that comes with healthcare architecture. “Creating an aesthetically beautiful facility that meets a vast array of codes and regulations and is functionally and operationally efficient, within an often restrictive budget, is no small feat,” she said with a laugh. “You have to have a passion for it.” And she does. “I love the fact that what I do is so meaningful and has such a positive impact on people’s lives. Healthcare design touches patients, families, and caregivers … each in a unique way.” Marzialo loves the collaborative nature of architecture, enjoying the energy and varying viewpoints required to find best practice solutions for complex problems. Another passion is reaching out to engage the next generation of architects. Given her unique background, Marzialo said she welcomes the opportunity to teach. She’s also very active in her professional organizations, serving on the Tennessee board of the American Institute of Architects and as president of the Middle Tennessee chapter. Always happy to mentor young architects, she said her personal role model is her husband Michael, who also happens to be a talented architect. “Michael has helped me to see the design possibilities in every-
thing I do and has always been my ‘go-to’ standard for doing the right thing,” she said. Despite their twin careers, the couple didn’t meet through work. Michael, a Connecticut native, was visiting Nashville with his musician brother when he met Linda at a concert. She laughingly said she wasn’t sure if he ultimately moved to Nashville for her or the city’s music scene … but it worked out either way. Married for more than 30 years, their son Nicholas now lives in Chicago and daughter Lin is preparing for grad school after recently graduating from Furman. “I love hiking, outdoor activities, travel and continual learning … and I like all of that best when my family is part of it,” Marzialo concluded. Spoken like a true team player.
June Patterson Fellows Director Nashville Health Care Council Knowledge is power. In a rapidly shifting healthcare landscape, June Patterson knows the importance of ensuring the next generation of industry leaders is well equipped to meet new and constantly evolving demands to improve quality and efficiency. “The executives who participate in the Fellows program have the influence to make change, and it’s exciting to map out the multiple ways we can facilitate a platform for them to do so,” she said. “My favorite thing to do is to be creative,” she continued of modifying the agenda each year to keep one of the Nashville Health Care Council’s signature programs on the forefront of innovation. Growing up in Tucson, Patterson was drawn to the idea of a helping profession and also wanted to engage her creativity. “I always loved medicine,” she added, “but I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor.” Graduating from Arizona State University with a journalism degree, she found a way to marry all her passions by becoming a medical writer and editor. “It gave me an opportunity to get the right information into the hands of the right people,” she said. “As a medical journalist,” she continued, “I was providing the latest in medical research to practicing physicians who are
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at the front lines of care. I’m doing something very similar now with Fellows – delivering valuable information to executives who have the ability to shape the future of healthcare. I’m just delivering the content in a different way.” Patterson served as editor-in-chief for VersusMed for eight years and was offered the opportunity to move to Nashville as part of the executive team in 2007. After the company closed its doors, she worked in corporate event planning before coming to the Council to lead the Fellows initiative. She said her varied experiences are all put to good use in her current position. “My event planning background has trained me to think about how to give the Fellows the best experience,” she noted. Brainstorming with the program’s co-directors – Sen. Bill Frist, MD, and Larry Van Horn, PhD, of Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School – is a regular activity as the trio continually look for ways to improve content and connect Fellows alumni in order to foster the networking and collaboration across disciplines required to solve big issues. “Healthcare in the United States is a very complex system, and it’s difficult to understand what areas to tackle that will benefit everyone. One of the great-
est challenges that both our industry and society face is the social determinants of health,” Patterson said of factors ranging from education to physical environment that impact an individual’s health status. “These are tough issues to resolve, and it takes a lot of resources to figure out how to address them.” Like many with a journalism background, Patterson is a lifelong learner. “Healthcare impacts everyone, and there are so many layers to it that it can be difficult to comprehend. I have the unique benefit of learning something new about the healthcare industry every day so I feel fortunate to be an informed consumer,” she said. “The more you know, the better you are at making good decisions.” She’s also keenly aware that people communicate in many ways. “My actions matter,” she said. “People, whether you know it or not, are observing you. I credit my parents with teaching me to be kind with my words and purposeful with my actions.” While her interests are varied, Patterson said she has the most fun when she’s on the water, cooking or traveling. Not surprising for an Arizona native, Patterson loves being outdoors and counts the warm months as her favorites when she
can swim, visit area waterfalls, paddleboard and kayak. Married last October to Andre Patterson, the couple spent their honeymoon in the sun at St. Lucia, but she said they are equally happy exploring big cities together or staying home and cooking colorful meals. In the coming years, Patterson would like to pay her good fortune forward by establishing a scholarship fund for aspiring students, do more writing focused on helping young people become successful, and establish a platform to mentor and prepare young women to succeed in the workplace. Whether helping support students or prepare the next wave of healthcare executives, Patterson is excited to share critical content to empower the next generation of leadership.
congratulations Lucy Carter
on being named a Nashville Medical News Woman to Watch
to the 2017Honorees!
The Council is proud to be among the organizations represented by these exceptional women.
from your colleagues at KraftCPAs and DIÀOLDWHV
Lucy Carter, Member & Practice Leader, Healthcare Industry Team, KraftCPAs PLLC Jennifer Domm, M.D., M.S.C.I., Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, TriStar Medical Group Children’s Specialists and Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics, The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial Amy Johnston Little, Executive Director, Dual Eligible Special Needs Population, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee Lisa Kachnic, M.D., F.A.S.T.R.O., Professor & Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center & Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Linda Marzialo, A.I.A., A.C.H.A., President & CEO, Gould Turner Group, PC June Patterson, Fellows Director, Nashville Health Care Council
Lucy Carter, CPA Member and Practice Leader Healthcare Industry Team
Nita Wall Shumaker, M.D., President, Tennessee Medical Association and Pediatrician, Galen Medical Group Amber Sims, F.A.C.H.E., C.M.P.E., M.B.A. Chief Strategy Officer, Saint Thomas Health Corina Tracy, Chief Operating Officer, Compassus I. Michele Williams, M.D., F.A.A.P., Pediatrician & Chief Medical Officer, Mathew Walker Comprehensive Health Center
555 Great Circle Road • Nashville, TN 37228 615-242-7351 • www.krafthealthcare.com
Clinician. Researcher. Educator. Leader. Chair, Vanderbilt Department of Radiation Oncology. Congratulations, Lisa Kachnic, M.D.! W O M A N T O WAT C H 2 0 1 7 H O N O R E E
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Nita Wall Shumaker, MD President Tennessee Medical Association Nita Wall Shumaker might not have set out to be a trailblazer, but a ‘jump right in’ attitude has led her down paths she couldn’t even begin to imagine while growing up in rural North Carolina. In her small town of 400 people, not many had college degrees. Working at a drugstore in the next town while still in high school, Shumaker said she really hadn’t given college much thought until her co-workers began talking about where they planned to study. “I thought, ‘I’m as smart as they are. I can do this,’” she recalled. “I fell in love with biology in college and decided to be a doctor. Since no one in my family had ever even been to college, that was bold,” Shumaker said with a grin. Graduating from East Carolina University, she was accepted into medical school at her alma mater. It was a hectic but exciting time. She had met a handsome … and wise … recent graduate from the University of Georgia named Kevin Shumaker just before her senior year of undergrad, and the couple married between her first and second years of medical school. “When I couldn’t decide between OB/GYN and pediatrics, my husband pointed out that during my pediatrics rotation, I didn’t want
to leave the hospital.” He was right, and she never secondguessed the decision. “I love interacting with children of all ages. I love interacting with parents, and I find my job enormously rewarding,” Shumaker said of her practice in the Chattanooga area. However, she continued, “The most challenging aspect of my daily life is trying to help parents understand the harmful effects of too much screen time and too little sleep, movement and proper nutrition.” In fact, she continued, medicine is facing many challenges. It was a desire to address a number of the big picture topics impacting patient care that led her to become involved in healthcare leadership and organized medicine. “I don’t sit quietly and accept others making decisions that affect me, my colleagues, or my patients,” she stated. “My personality lends itself to standing up for others who are less comfortable doing so for themselves.” At the end of April, Shumaker became president of the Tennessee Medical Association, the second female to hold that position in the organization’s history. The first female president was Phyllis Miller, MD, who also hails from Chattanooga. Ironically, Miller and Shumaker were also the first two
Pediatrician Galen Medical Group women to hold the position of chief-of-staff at Erlanger Medical Center. Shumaker said she was happy to be in that company and would like to see more females taking on leadership roles. One of the key issues she hopes to tackle as TMA president is to address the way opioids are prescribed. “Pressure to aggressively manage pain and misinformation by drug companies about addiction risks led doctors to prescribe opioids across the nation in record numbers. We now know the dangers and are working with governmental regulators and grassroots efforts to treat pain in new and innovative ways. We need to educate the public about how incredibly addictive these medications are … all to stop the crisis in Tennessee,” Shumaker said. “Opioids are the most urgent healthcare issue we face at present,” she continued. “I am passionate about not accepting that we are doing enough to combat the issue.” Other hot topics for Shumaker include innovations in training the next generation of doctors, increasing interest in primary care, expanding awareness of the dangers of unmonitored electronics use, and getting Tennesseans focused on physical fitness and good nutrition.
“My hobby is practicing medicine,” she said with a wry laugh. Actually, she and her husband also enjoy dining out with friends, exercising and spending time with their sons whenever possible. The oldest, Alex, is a doctoral candidate at Rutgers, and younger brother Rocklin was just accepted to Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. With her sons grown, Shumaker said it does allow more time to speak up and speak out about issues impacting the field she loves. “People who do not practice medicine are making decisions that profoundly affect our lives … and even more importantly, our patient’s lives. If we don’t speak up and advocate for ourselves and our patients, then the entire nation suffers.”
Amber Sims, FACHE, CMPE, MBA Chief Strategy Officer Saint Thomas Health A native Nashvillian, Amber Sims grew up watching her grandmother serve the community as a public health nurse. “I remember as a child being in awe of how appreciative her patients and families were of her services and compassion,” Sims recalled. While Sims didn’t acquire her grandmother’s desire to be a clinician, the two shared a deep passion for making a difference. Once Sims discovered the business side of healthcare, she knew she had found her niche and never looked back. “I somehow got lucky enough to find a career that allows me to fulfill that passion,” said Sims, who has been a member of the Saint Thomas Health team for the past 16 years and was named to her current role in 2015. As part of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest not-for-profit healthcare system, Sims said her job is to focus on ways to live out the mission of providing holistic care to individuals and communities in a manner that reflects the system’s core vision and values. “Our strategic direction here in Tennessee is to build integrated systems of care with the outcomes meeting our quadruple aim – low cost, high quality, engaged
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providers, and engaged patients and communities,” she said. “When we think about Saint Thomas Health, our role isn’t just about healthcare, it’s about the wider community,” Sims continued. “Our goal is to be a resource outside an acute episode or traditional healthcare. We really want to be partners in the communities we serve.” In 2007, Sims and colleague Nancy Anness (a previous Women to Watch honoree) started the Day of Hope, Health & Healing as their pilot project for Saint Thomas Health’s Formation for Catholic Healthcare Ministry Leadership program. In the decade since, the event has grown to offer a more comprehensive set of services to the uninsured and underinsured in Middle Tennessee and has now spread throughout Ascension, reaching a national audience. Sims said she feels fortunate to be part of the mission to care for the poor and vulnerable and noted that in today’s complex healthcare environment, it requires a team with different skill sets to shift the narrative from episodic sick care to health and wellbeing. While she thrives on change, Sims said the rapid pace, coupled with uncertainty over health reform, present the greatest
challenges to her work. However, she noted, the current landscape also presents exciting opportunities to reimagine the future. “I love being part of the transformation of healthcare,” she said, “because I think it is imperative to change both the fiscal and physical health of our communities.” Just as her grandmother modeled service to others, Sims and her husband Marty make it a priority to share their determination to make a difference with their three-year-old son Oliver and six-year-old daughter Amelia. “We try to instill in our children that they can give back, too,” Sims said. While it’s always hard for parents to know what messages make a lasting impression, she was pleasantly surprised recently when Amelia asked if her friends could bring items to donate to an animal shelter instead of traditional gifts to her sixth birthday party. When not at Girl Scouts, basketball, or soccer games, Sims said she and Marty love to try new restaurants. But, she laughingly admitted, limited time and lots of new dining options make it tough to keep up. Although a hectic, full life keeps her busy both at home and work, Sims said her overarching feeling is one of gratefulness. “I have been so fortunate to have so many
people invest in me, I want to give back by helping others on their journey,” she said. Whether it’s watching her children grow and flourish, fostering development in the next group industry leaders, or reaching out to improve health, Sims said it all comes down to building lasting relationships. “I strive to live by Maya Angelou’s quote: ‘I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,’” she recited. At the end of the day, Sims said the mission of Saint Thomas Health is to make all those with whom they come in contact feel valued, respected, engaged and empowered as they partner together to create healthier communities.
Corina Tracy Chief Operating Officer Compassus For Corina Tracy, hospice has played an important role in her life both personally as a family member and professionally as a hospice nurse, and now as the chief operating officer of Compassus. As a teenager in Iowa, Tracy decided to pursue a nursing career in the wake of her mother facing serious health issues. “I am the youngest, and only girl, in my large family so I naturally became a pretty major part of my mom’s caregiving,” she recalled. While her sights were set on nursing, she said her introduction to end-of-life care was a bit less planned. After graduation, an opening was available in the oncology/hospice unit of the local hospital. It didn’t take long for that fortuitous first job to become a calling. With her mother’s health failing … and despite being a proponent for end-of-life care, Tracy said it was still a struggle to get her mother into hospice. “Most of the healthcare professionals around her did not want to talk about it even though her deterioration was obvious,” she said. Ultimately, her mother was able to receive the palliative care that is part of hospice and to enjoy quality time with her family before dying peacefully at home. “It was then and there that I decided it would
be my life’s work to ensure that all people facing the end of life would know there are options … and there is hope,” she said. In 2003, Tracy joined Compassus as director of clinical services. Within five years, she had advanced to regional management with operational oversight of facilities in five states. Tracy relocated from Iowa to Nashville in 2009 with her family when she became part of the company’s executive leadership team. Assuming her current role at the end of 2014, she now has responsibility for a national company with more than 151 palliative care, hospice, and home health locations across 32 states. Tracy is quick to credit many people with enhancing her career. “I make it a point to find the people who are smarter, more skillful and talented than me and just start watching, learning, and absorbing,” she explained. That said, Tracy pointed to Compassus CEO Jim Deal as one of her chief mentors. “First of all, about 10 years ago he was willing to take a chance on, and invest in, an opinionated, spunky, hard-working young nurse,” she said with a grin. He also encouraged Tracy to go back to school to study business to enhance her skillset.
More than two decades into her career, Tracy still relishes every aspect of end-of-life care. “I love that I get to make a difference in the world. I love dealing with challenges and that I’m tasked with finding better ways to do things. I love that I get to create a culture that values both compassion and excellence. I love that I have the responsibility to grow leaders and to compel everyone around me to be their best,” she enumerated. Despite the universal gratitude shared by those who have experienced hospice, Tracy said some of the same barriers to accessing care she experienced years ago with her mother still exist. “It’s difficult for many to see that hospice is an integral part of the healthcare solution.” While health spending is exceedingly concentrated among those in their last year of life, often on treatments that are neither curative nor comforting, “hospice provides some of the highest quality care out there at the lowest cost to the system,” she continued. Tracy noted that more than 35 percent of patients die within seven days of entering hospice, although research shows patients receiving hospice care for a longer period of time are more likely to have high end-of-life satisfaction. Inevitably, she said,
patients and families who experience hospice say they wish they’d taken advantage of the care sooner. “The hesitancy to use hospice is not only our field’s greatest challenge but our healthcare system’s greatest challenge,” she stated. Perspective gained from her career influences her everyday life, which she joyfully shares with husband Jeff, their three children, son-in-law and young grandsons. “I love being outdoors, hanging with my grown children and grandkids, nice dinners with good wine and watching Cubs baseball and Preds hockey,” Tracy said with a smile. After all, she knows well the restorative power of being surrounded by love and laughter at every point along life’s journey.
I. Michele Williams, MD, FAAP Pediatrician & Chief Medical Officer Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center Growing up in nearby Columbia, Tenn., Michele Williams credits her three brothers with teaching her to be tough … and tender. Williams’ oldest brother was diagnosed with a benign tumor on his spine, which led to a year in a full body cast and traction when he was in seventh grade. Often accompanying her mother to Vanderbilt, Williams was fascinated by all things medical. “I was his private nurse … I thought … and from then on I wanted to become a pediatrician and go to Vanderbilt University,” she recalled. And so she did just that – earning an undergraduate math degree from Vanderbilt before completing her medical degree, internship and residency at the academic medical center. Williams readily credits a number of role models and mentors with helping her achieve her dreams. Her childhood pediatricians – Rufus Clifford, MD, and Patricia Davis, MD – always encouraged their young patient, and the practice purchased books for her before she headed off to college. At Vanderbilt, Williams said Gerald Hickson, MD, and Ellen Wright Clayton, JD, MD, really took her under their wings and allowed her to shadow them beginning her second year of
undergrad before she had even started her medical training. “Dr. Joseph Gigante and Dr. Theodora Pinnock, while in residency, helped mold me to become a better physician,” she noted. Williams added Meharry pediatrician and associate professor Olayinka Onadeko, MD, continues to mentor and guide her “with his love for teaching students and seeing patients.” In fact, she continued, those are the two things she also enjoys the most – seeing happy, healthy children run to the ‘treasure’ box at the end of an appointment and being part of training the next generation of providers. “I can’t forget teaching students that will be our future doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses and explaining to them our patient population has a lot of uphill battles that we must help them overcome with compassion and empowerment over their health decisions,” Williams said, adding one of the greatest challenges she and her staff face is addressing the psychosocial problems that often interfere with patients achieving optimal health. Williams is passionate about leveling the playing field to ensure all patients receive quality care whether or not they have commercial insurance. “There
should not be any different level of service because you are at a private practice office, Vanderbilt or a FQHC,” she stated. She and her colleagues are working hard to change the perception of Federally Qualified Health Centers. “I would like our clinic to be the first option and not the last choice when it comes to healthcare,” she said. “Our patients love us when they come, but the negative connotation of a ‘free clinic’ and ‘poor care’ is incorrect.” When she isn’t caring for children at work, she stays busy with her own two at home. An athletic family, Williams said the trio is very supportive of each other, yet quite competitive with interests ranging from sports to cooking. Williams laughingly noted they aren’t afraid to coach from the sidelines and offer up an opinion on everything from play selection to the perfect seasonings for grilling. Cooking, she added, is a team sport. “The family all participates. Everybody knows if you don’t cook you have to clean!” Son Jestin, who played football for Alcorn State, is now in his second year at Meharry. Daughter Jayla is finishing her freshman year of high school at St. Cecilia Academy. “My son is currently in medical school and trying to convince my daughter
that she needs to join us and not the law field,” Williams said with a smile. What is most important to her as a mother and mentor, however, is to pass along the idea of staying open to possibilities … even if they are different from what you might have imagined. “Community health is not what I was looking for when I finished residency,” Williams said. “But once I was exposed to Metro General Hospital/Meharry Medical College and loaned out to Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, I knew where I belonged and my God-given purpose in life.” Finding that same sense of purpose is all she could wish for both her children and her students.
Women to Watch
Women 20 17 TO W AT C H
TUESDAY, JUNE 20, 2017 W.O. SMITH SCHOOL OF MUSIC | 1125 EIGHTH AVE. S. | 7:30-9 AM INDIVIDUAL TICKETS: $45 | TABLES OF 8: $350
HONOR E E S Lucy Carter, CPA Member & Practice Leader, Healthcare Industry Team KraftCPAs PLLC Jennifer Domm, MD, MSCI Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist TriStar Medical Group Children’s Specialists Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics The Children’s Hospital at TriStar Centennial Amy Johnston Little, MBA Executive Director, Dual Eligible Special Needs Population UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee
Lisa Kachnic, MD, FASTRO Professor & Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology Vanderbilt University Medical Center & Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
Nita Wall Shumaker, MD President Tennessee Medical Association
Linda Marzialo, AIA, ACHA President & CEO Gould Turner Group, PC
Amber Sims, FACHE, CMPE, MBA Chief Strategy Officer Saint Thomas Health
June Patterson Fellows Director Nashville Health Care Council
Corina Tracy Chief Operating Officer Compassus
Pediatrician Galen Medical Group
I. Michele Williams, MD, FAAP Pediatrician & Chief Medical Officer Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center
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Women to Watch