From Bedside to Boardroom- An Interview with Kathy Stevenson, BSN, RN, LBBP

What led you to become a nurse?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles (as were both of my parents) and was the first in my family to receive a college diploma. I was always interested in Science and excelled in school, excelled in it.  I took a class as a senior in high school that provided nursing training and we obtained our Nurse’s Aide Certificate at the end of the year.  My teacher encouraged me to pursue nursing in college and so I did. While attending Mount St Mary’s University, I had a professor that was a fabulous role model and a pediatric nurse. Her enthusiasm for caring for children and their families is what led me to work at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). I worked in a toddler unit, was an Assistant Manager of an infant special care unit, and spent much of my time at CHLA as a House Supervisor.  I loved caring for not only the child as the patient but also the family of that child, helping them to navigate a time that is surely stressful in anyone’s life.

How did you make move from bedside to administration and eventually to transition and activation planning?

My transition to the various roles I held at CHLA was easy due to the great support I had from Nursing Leaders within the organization.  Always looking to further people’s careers, they encouraged me to reach past my comfort zone and take on new responsibilities and challenges.  I was first introduced to transition and activation planning work while assisting with the CHLA move to a new patient care tower in 2011.  It was there I met Kelly Guzman, CEO of Yellow Brick and her team who helped with the move into the new tower. My role in the move was at first a relatively small, but as time got closer to the move, circumstances allowed me to take on a bigger role and again with the support of the leaders around me, we safely moved about 190 patients in one day!  I really enjoyed the planning and strategizing aspect of Transition and Activation Planning and soon made myself available to work with Kelly and team to work with other organizations.  The move was one of the best things I could have done. While I miss the interaction with patients and families, I enjoy using my clinical knowledge to help bridge the gap between the construction part of the project and having staff ready to take care of even the most complex patient safely on Day 1 in their new space.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

If I could give advice to my younger self, I think it would be the same advice I give to people who ask me about my career of over the last 35 years in healthcare.  The work is exhausting but very rewarding. Always keep perspective on the positive impact you can have on people’s lives as a nurse.  Remember to be understanding that people are at a very stressful time in their lives and may not be at their best. This can go a long way in helping them face the challenges with dignity and move forward. Holding a hand, offering a smile or just being there means a lot. Remember, “It is not how much we do – it is how much love we put into the doing.”

Kathy with fellow Yellow Brick nurse leaders Ann Ahmadi and Kelly Guzman