Connecting to people and making a difference are the cornerstones of why so many people start their healthcare careers. Nilda Adair, Chief Radiation Therapist at Lenox Hill Hospital, strives to ensure her team never forgets the spirit of caring that brought them to the industry.
Nilda’s career in radiation medicine had an unlikely start, after a career in Human Resources, Nilda took time off to raise her children. During this time, she sought out meaningful ways to connect with her community, Nilda began volunteering in radiation oncology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC). It was this experience that shifted everything. “When I started volunteering in radiation oncology, I felt so inspired by the employees – by their passion, their enthusiasm, and their motivation,” Nilda says, “I thought, ‘when I grow up, I want to be like them’ and I knew immediately I wanted to pursue a career in radiation oncology with Northwell.”
Volunteering inspired Nilda to go back to school to become a radiation therapist. She didn’t want to become a radiation therapist just anywhere – her heart was set on a position at LIJMC, “I knew if I’m going to work, Northwell is where I wanted to be.” After starting with per diem work at Northwell as a radiation therapist in 1997, Nilda transitioned to full time after just a few months.
However, her career goals didn’t stop there. Nilda’s passion and commitment to her work helped her move her way up through her years at Northwell, serving as a supervisor before becoming chief in 2013. If the day to day responsibilities didn’t keep her busy enough, she also became the Patient Experience Culture Leader for radiation medicine. In this role, Nilda is responsible for overseeing the local patient experience – leading and effecting change. It is this unrelenting passion for delivering the best care to our patients that reminds Nilda daily why she joined the healthcare industry.
Throughout her rise in Radiation Medicine, Nilda’s love for patient experience never wavered. The role of chief would mean taking a step back from interacting with patients directly, it also provided her with the opportunity to increase quality of care through empowering others. “I realized that by empowering my team, I’m able to help even more patients,” Nilda says, “We’re able to meet our goal of making sure that every patient feels like someone is spending time taking care of them, and that they don’t feel like a piece in a production line.”
Her role as a culture leader was a trajectory that started early on in her career. Over the years, Nilda was given the opportunity to work projects that led to improved patient experience. Embracing these opportunities meant that she was part of the team that help reduce the number of reduce the number of days between consult and treatment for specific disease sites, improved therapist workflow efficiency increasing the amount time team members spend crucial points of care, and to drive performance in our safety culture just to name a few.
Serving as a culture leader has allowed Nilda to expand her own knowledge of what matters to patients, “I’ve learned that a patient’s experience isn’t just impacted by the staff they interact with. It’s important to realize that all senses play a role in, not only, how we are perceived but impacts the overall feeling the patient has when they leave the hospital.” By taking every moment of the experience into consideration, Nilda and her team can deliver the best care experience for patients.
No matter her position, Nilda always remembers that spark that ignited while she was volunteering, “Focusing on patient experience helps us all remember the spirit of why we chose health care in the first place – make a connection, to help people, and to make a difference.”
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