Welcome to our series celebrating the women of Care Innovations, where we're meeting some of the key leaders and team members working hard to drive our success. Today, we're talking to Julie Cherry, RN. MSN, PHN, our Chief Clinical Officer about her experience with leadership strategies, career planning, how to balance work and family, and more.
How has your prior life experience prepared you for your position here at Care Innovations?
I have been working in healthcare for 45 years. I spent the first 20 years caring for patients in an acute care setting and then eventually moved into home care. My area of expertise and interest has always been in helping the chronically ill elderly.
In the 1980s, a shift in reimbursement models had two big consequences:
- Patients were expected to be advocates for themselves and make their own decisions about their care and treatments, and
- It became much more difficult to get authorization for an adequate number of home care visits to ensure that patients learned self-care and were able to remain safely at home after a health crisis.
This was when I really became passionate about changing the healthcare delivery landscape to better support patients outside of the traditional walls of medicine. In the late '90s I left the bedside model of nursing and helped found the first telehealth company.
By finding a way to use technology to teach patients self-management and provide a clinical safety net in the home, I realized that I could touch more lives by focusing on a new solution than by continuing to touch one life at a time at the bedside. Hence, my entrance into technology innovation in 1998.
What do you think is the most important issue facing women in leadership roles today?
Women have come a long way in the business world, but there are still some real challenges and inequalities. A strong, outspoken man is typically seen as a leader, while a strong, outspoken woman is sometimes just seen as a bossy woman. There are still many companies that were founded by men and are majority run by men. Breaking into leadership roles in these “boys club” organizations can be extremely difficult and, in some cases, impossible for women.
As a female on the C-suite of a company, I have found a way to voice my opinion and be heard. I believe women need to work on personal confidence, how to speak up in a crowd, how to self-promote (yes, I know that sounds really uncomfortable) and how to build alliances for success.
Who is a female who has been inspirational to you in your career, and why?
Dr. Juliet Corbin has been the greatest inspiration to me in my career. She is a brilliant nurse with a passion and a vision for how we can all do better to help those in need. She believed in my abilities from early in my career and mentored me along the way. She taught me everything I know about chronic illness management. She provided a model for how to be respectful of the way things are while pushing the boundaries, questioning the status quo and always serving up an alternative or new idea.
How do you balance work with family life?
I was lucky to marry a man who has always shared in the household responsibilities. That has made work/life balance a little easier for me than for a woman who does not have that support at home.
The best decision I made when my children were born was that, as long as I was working, I would hire someone to clean the house and take care of the yard work, so that when I was home, I could spend 100% of my time and effort being with the kids and my husband.
Also, we all should role model the idea of being off work when you are off work. Because my job is very demanding in terms of time, I have learned over the years that vacations are key to my work/life balance. But, it also means that when you take a vacation, you should do yourself and your company a favor and BE OFF! If you are still taking calls and checking email, then you're not getting the break you need to recharge. You're also sending your co-workers the message that you don’t trust them to handle things while you are out. So, my bottom line is never clean another toilet, and enjoy disconnecting when you take a vacation!
What advice would you give young women regarding their career?
Follow your dreams. Be passionate about what you do. Create a path to the perfect job and then go after it!
I would advise a young woman to write down a description of her perfect job, including the industry, role, salary, hours, degree of flexibility and level of responsibility. Once you have the description, then go find it. One would be amazed at how many times it is possible to craft the perfect job for yourself and then find it within the company you currently work for — or how magical it is when you describe the job and the right company to pursue suddenly becomes blatantly obvious.
One other hard lesson I learned early in my career is that there will be disappointments and failures, and when they occurred, as a sensitive, emotional person, they would hit me very hard. I took everything so personally and would get very upset with myself. Then, with the ultimate disappointment — when I learned that everyone is replaceable in the work force — my greatest lesson was learned. So, here is my advice: Always remember that your job is what you do — it does not define who you are as a person.
Which of your traits do you think have contributed most to your success?
I am a good listener. I mean, I really know how to listen. That means that, when someone is talking, try not to be thinking about what you will say next; instead, try to listen to what they are saying — keeping in mind what they are not saying, which can be observed in body language and tone. When in doubt, repeat back what you think you heard to see if they communicated what they intended to communicate.
The other trait I think has really helped me is that I never complain without either offering a solution, or offering to lead a team to find a solution. I always try to be a positive person, and I like to focus on solutions, not just complain about problems.
I strongly believe in the power of a team versus an individual contributor. As a leader, my philosophy is: If the team wins, they did it; if the team fails, I did it.
How do you feel you impact the lives of patients on a daily basis?
We at Care Innovations have created an extremely high-quality offering with the Health Harmony platform as the foundation. With our clinical model, technology and services, we are touching thousands of lives every day!
We often receive letters from patients and/or their family members thanking us for what we do, and sharing their personal stories about how their lives have been changed. With each of these letters, I am reminded about why I do what I do and how my efforts have changed peoples’ lives for the better. In fact, I now know that I have touched many more lives than I ever could have if I had stayed at the bedside.
I am so grateful and blessed by the opportunities I have had in my career — the best being the decision to enter the world of technology innovation.
Interested in learning more about how Care Innovations can help your organization leverage telehealth to improve patient care and operational efficiencies? Contact us here to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our specialists. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook for more updates and insights!
About Julie Cherry, RN, MSN, PHN
Julie Cherry, RN, MSN, PHN, is the Chief Clinical Officer at Care Innovations, responsible for the overall clinical strategy and consulting with clients to focus on care model design, population assessment, business model design and other critical program components. Julie is responsible for all clinical aspects of Care Innovations' solutions and services development to ensure clinical and business value, as well as customer satisfaction, for healthcare systems and healthcare providers. Julie brings more than 40 years of nursing and clinical expertise to the role.
Before joining Care Innovations, Julie helped pioneer the first home telehealth solution for remote patient monitoring. She has worked diligently throughout her career to influence the adoption of technology-facilitated care models designed to meet the needs of the chronically ill.
Julie is an advanced practice nurse with a specialty in gerontology. She has written several publications and position papers on the impact of technology for remote patient monitoring and chronic illness management. She holds both a B.S. and an M.S. in Nursing from San Jose State University.