Aspiring Nurse to VP of Telehealth Services: My Career Journey
Written by: Iris Berman
From the time I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I can remember even as a 6 year old bringing my friends in to our home to tend to their battle wounds from climbing trees, falling off bicycles or roller-skates and the like. My mother kept a constant supply of antiseptic cream and brightly colored Band-Aids for my use. That was the beginning. At nine years old my father had suffered a heart attack. I had learned some basic first aid in the girl scout troop and recognized his symptoms . I’d visit him (children weren’t allowed in the Coronary care unit in those days) and observe through glass partitions all that the nurses were doing. I was sure then, that was what I wanted to do.
My very first job that would open the gate to involvement in the now Northwell Health system began over 30 years ago in Glen Cove Hospital even before it was ever part of the health system. Starting as a per diem nurse gave me the opportunity to work in a variety of environments, but it was Critical Care that called to me, and it has served me well.
I had already moved into a position in the coronary care unit when Glen Cove became one of the first acquisitions to (at that time) NSUH. Maybe it was my family history, but I became very interested in at risk populations and volunteered to work on joint programs with the hospital and the American Heart Association. The health system supported my interest and the program continued to grow. We began to develop a support program for patients with a variety of cardiac diseases. – all the while I continued to explore other options in my employment moving to the broader field of critical care. I knew I wanted to go back to school (I already had my BSN). Because of the great tuition reimbursement program, I was able to return to school to obtain my MSN in Nursing Administration. Opportunity knocks in our health system; you just have to answer the door!
While attending school I became the critical care educator for Glen Cove. The wonderful thing is that while hired for a specific site, this roll enabled me to work not only on site but to collaborate on system wide task forces for things like stroke, CV disease and other best practice programs. There were always opportunities to grow, and the leadership teams greatly encouraged, welcomed, and supported me. I wrote and successfully was awarded a grant to expand stroke education. Being an educator allowed me to use my years of nursing knowledge to help others both on the patient front and in nursing and beyond.
A few years after becoming an educator an opportunity for a management position became available and again I received the full support from the leadership team. I never would have imagined, even then, that I’d be where I am today. Because I have always been active in my professional organization of AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) I had been increasingly aware of something called tele-ICUs (eICU®), part of an emerging field called telemedicine . When I saw that there was a director’s position for this program in our own health system, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. Low and behold I got the job. It seems that although I was based in a community hospital the work I had done over the years was recognized. I can’t think of many other organizations as large as ours, where there is such accessibility and visibility to senior leadership.
I could go on but suffice to say that I have moved from Director of the eICU program to AVP for Telehealth and now VP for Telehealth services. This highlights the opportunities and ability of our health system to be progressive, agile, and welcoming all at once. I am one of the fortunate who truly loves going to work every day. I am so proud to be part of this wonderful organization now known as Northwell. John Quincy Adams once said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, earn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Because our Northwell Leaders are visionaries I have been allowed to dream, be and do more!
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Picture: Iris (First woman on the left) with employees on her eICU team.