We are privileged to work with many people who have firsthand clinical experience. These talented individuals work together with our technology teams and clients to make sure we’re delivering solutions that work in the real world – not just the testing lab. With their wealth of knowledge, our clinical experts help keep our efforts aligned with the needs and goals of our clients.
In this series, we spotlight individuals who have worked in clinical settings and now contribute their skills and experience to Netsmart.
Carole Thomas – Strategic Solutions Consultant
1. Tell us about yourself.
I live in Kansas City, MO. I attended college at the University of Missouri – Columbia (M-I-Z…Z-O-U!); Park University and Avila University. I later went on to nursing school at St. Luke’s College (now St. Luke’s College of Health Sciences). Several years later, I received my certification as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) from National American University. It would seem after reading this I liked school, but alas, I did not!
2. Give us some highlights of your career in healthcare.
I come from a long line of nurses so to avoid being a nurse was not to be tolerated in my family! My introduction to healthcare was as a Medical Transcriptionist. I took the first job I could find when I graduated college. I transcribed for hospitals, pathology departments and radiology departments. In retrospect, it was a great choice considering my future career path because it was a very thorough introduction to medicine. I had to become familiar with everything from medical data collection and surgical procedures, laboratory data and results as well as all things pharmaceutical.
It helped me with nursing school because I knew diseases and diagnoses, hospital course of treatment, surgical procedures, and discharge planning because I had been transcribing it. This job morphed into working for the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office before CSI became popular! I supported the ME (Medical Examiner) by transcribing “the post” or the autopsy reports, pathology reports and death certificates. While working here, I was recruited by some detectives I worked with from the KCMO PD because of my speed in typing. While completing my pre-reqs for nursing school, I worked for the Crimes Against Persons division of the KCMO PD transcribing statements from both criminals and victims as well as documenting crime scenes and other things related to homicides, robberies and sex crimes. I guess you could say my career in healthcare went the opposite way of most.
After graduating nursing school, the first part of my career was spent as a nurse, starting at Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill. I worked my way up the ladder to Med/Surg Unit Manager and later, I was given an assignment to open a Medicare Skilled Nursing Unit where I was the program director. I left the acute care scene and went into long-term care as the director of nursing in a very large rehab skilled nursing facility. From there, I was a director of nursing in a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) on the Plaza. I transitioned to the ambulatory setting from there, as a clinical coordinator for an ambulatory clinic. After my time there, I went back to school…AGAIN and I received my MSCE certification. I did spend a brief amount of time working in prison health at both the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing and Leavenworth, the federal prison, prior to transitioning to healthcare IT. At one point, I did return to the hospital setting where I was director of clinical IT for a few years. It was very stressful. I had responsibility for the all the clinical software systems in a two-hospital system. Being responsible for the EHR and all the surrounding applications (lab, radiology, pharmacy, cardiology, GI, OR, ER, etc.) was monstrous! I returned to implementations and the EHR partner world once again. I worked for another healthcare IT partner for eight years first as an implementation consultant and later as a clinical practice director with their acute care surgical solutions. I worked with software implementations from Toronto to Maui. The company was acquired in 2015 at which time I retired. But, I found my way to Netsmart, after some well-deserved time off and here I am!
3. Why did you leave the clinical setting to join Netsmart?
I like to think I didn't transition from clinical work. Being a clinician helps me relate to our client base. Having worked I like to think that I didn’t really transition across the continuum of care from acute to primary care to post-acute, I understand our clients’ operational struggles. During our software demonstrations, I bring credibility because I can describe how we integrate with client workflows and how we can help clients in areas they may not realize.
Our goal is to help clients see the value of automation and how it’s not just a rule or regulation, but it’s an efficiency and opportunity to show how technology supports the excellent care they already give. And that, I believe, is why we do what we do.
4. What makes you passionate about serving Netsmart clients/organizations?
Having been here for almost two years, I’ve become keenly aware that our clients serve some of the most underserved populations in healthcare. Our clients are doing “a lot with a little” to treat and serve their clients, and this is incredibly vital to healthcare.
What we do here contributes to the care and well-being of the entire person. Health is more than physical. It’s mental, spiritual and emotional, which are all valuable to a person’s quality of life. By supporting our clientele, we are contributing greatly to individual wellness.
5. What does your perfect weekend look like?
I enjoy traveling. Right now, I have a penchant for Europe. Last year, I traveled to Venice, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Montenegro and San Marino. This year, I will travel through Scandinavia with stops in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and St. Petersburg. I enjoy live music, particularly jazz. And I’ve been known to include musical events in my travel destinations. I also enjoy cooking and growing roses and hydrangeas.