July 21, 2021


This photo was at a small surprise “going away” party the office staff at CENTA Medical Group had for me. I’ve just opened a lovely Waterford crystal hurricane lamp that was one of their gifts.  I appreciated the kind send off and knew it was time to leave.

Being administrator for this growing otolaryngology practice for a decade or so had been challenging and frustrating.  The constant back and forth between the “front office” and “back office” staff wasn’t easy to manage.  And the women in the office often preferred to go to the doctors if they had any issues.  Eventually I convinced the doctors they needed to refer them back to me if they really wanted to have an administrator but habits of many years were hard to break. 

Yet it was in many ways the perfect job for me during this phase of my life.  The doctors were very supportive during the years of Tom’s illness and death and also my mother’s.  They gave me such compassionate and practical advice during hard times. It was also here that I got my first Macintosh computer—and I’ve never looked back!  I oversaw several big projects such as relocating the practice from its longtime office building across from Providence Hospital to a new space affiliated with Richland Memorial Hospital, changing to a color-coded medical record filing system, opening a satellite office, changing the practice name and logo, and developing marketing materials. 

By the late 1990s, I was having some stress-related health issues and experiencing burnout.  The climax was when a consultant friend gave me an executive skills assessment.  When he came to discuss the findings with me, he was very concerned because of my score in one particular category.  My vitality score was ZERO!  Clearly, change was necessary!

With that impetus, I explored other options and took a job (at half the salary I was making) with Pete Cannon.  Working downtown with him on developing a central business improvement district for about two years led me to a wonderful new career in Nashville. When starting the new job, I drove with Steve Gibson to Nashville for our first meeting with the Board there.  I wore the dress that I have on in this “farewell party” photo!  I like the idea of the same dress marking an ending and a beginning.

This second photo was taken on a visit to Columbia a few years later, when I went out to lunch with some of the CENTA “back office” staff.  They’re a great group of women—and I was privileged to work with everyone at CENTA, burnout or not!

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