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Caring for growing families in uncertain times

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | October 23, 2020
Rochelle Johnson
From the October 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Healthcare Business News recently spoke with Rochelle Johnson, director of nursing for the Birth Center at Regions Hospital. Johnson shared her background and provided an in-depth look at the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created and how she and her colleagues have risen to the challenge.

HCB News: Who or what inspired you to follow a career in healthcare?
RJ: I initially obtained a degree in international relations. I got a promising job at our state capitol right out of university and I quickly discovered I needed to find a job that more tangibly helped people. So I decided to change pathways. I went back to school and went into nursing.

In politics I think you learn a lot around policy development and the importance of having relationships, but I am happy I made the change I did. I think I was put on the planet to be a nurse and nurse leader. Nursing is a job where you get to be a bridge for people and that’s what I’ve been really blessed to do over the last 15 years. I’ve always worked in women’s health, always been hospital-based and always worked in birth centers.

HCB News: How long have you been with Regions?
RJ: I helped to open a women’s and children’s hospital in Doha, Qatar where I lived for four years with my family. When I returned to the states, the first day that I started at Regions, was the first day the architecture firm came to meet us for the birth center project. That was almost exactly three years ago.

HCB News: Did your experience studying international relations help in your work abroad?
RJ: Absolutely. My husband and I have always looked for opportunities to expand our worldview. I’m a woman of color and I work in women’s health and know there are many disparities in women’s and children’s health when it comes to people of color. So we thought it would be a great opportunity when we heard about an academic medical center being opened, to be able to see what healthcare was like in a different country. It let us see how other people practice around the world and what healthcare they provide that is supportive of people of color and to bring some of those ideas and leadership methods back to the United States.

HCB News: You mentioned being a bridge to people. On the day-to-day, what is it that brings you into work that you’re happy about?
RJ: My role as a nursing director is so different than our bedside care that we deliver, but I really see my role as the caregiver for our nurses and providers in the department. I enjoy being able to help create a vision for the work we do, to be able to help provide support for the people who are at the bedside and connecting with our patients to make sure they’re happy with the care we’re delivering.

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