After making history as the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, more than one year later, Sandra Lindsay reflects on her experience and shares career advice for anyone looking toward the next chapter of their career journey.
Tell us about your career journey and why you wanted to become a nurse.
I always knew I wanted to become a nurse. I was raised by my grandparents and took great pleasure in caring for my grandmother who suffered from chronic illnesses. Despite her health history, she was a fierce educator, church organist, community leader, and provider for our family. This fueled my passion for wanting to care for more people.
My journey at Northwell began at Lenox Hill Hospital (LHH). I started as a nurse extern in the emergency department, after which I was hired as a staff nurse in oncology. After three and half years in oncology, I moved on to critical care where I held clinical nursing roles in the medical intensive care unit and critical care unit, before being promoted into leadership roles. Prior to my promotion as director and subsequent transfer to Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC), I served as the nurse manager for the medical intensive care unit at LHH.
Today, I currently serve as the director of Patient Care Services for critical care at LIJMC, a position which I’ve held for the past six years. In this role, I have responsibilities for four intensive care units, as well as the respiratory care unit. I oversee the clinical practice of more than 200 employees in the and manage daily and strategic operations for the units.
What helped you grow along your career journey? Can you provide a few areas where you received the support you needed to grow as a nurse and as a leader?
I had a great experience in the emergency department, soaking up every bit of information that I could and thankfully the nurses were patient and kind. They took me under their wings. My first preceptor in oncology was stern but also very patient, and kind. She really helped me get a good foundation as a clinical nurse as did all my preceptors in the various critical care units that I worked in. I will also never forget the day I met the AED of quality management at LHH, who offered to mentor me. We shared a love of gardening, and over the years she shared many pearls of leadership wisdom with me, that still support my practice today. There have been other mentors who helped me to grow tremendously.
What is something you wish someone would have told you before you graduated nursing school?
At the time that I graduated, I wish someone would have told me that in addition to building my nursing skills, building relationship skills with patients, families, and a multidisciplinary team is also paramount to a successful career.
If you could offer career advice to anyone, what would it be and why?
I think it is important to follow your dreams and seek out mentors who will provide you with honest feedback. After landing that dream job, the work does not end. Staying engaged and passionate about whatever that role is, requires continuous learning. Treat it as a journey, not a destination.
Going into our third year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandra hopes that we can all get some much-needed relief and healing. She states, “We are closer to the end than the beginning and we should not give up now.”
Treat your career as a journey, just like Sandra Lindsay. Become a Health Raiser at Northwell Health and see available nursing opportunities here.