New Operations Director overseeing major change in several clinics, including Neurosurgery

A seasoned veteran of University of Minnesota Physician’s Cardiology Division, Kelly Schechter, RN, recently took over leadership of the Neuroscience Clinics, which includes Neurosurgery, Neurology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as the Endocrine Clinic – in addition to the Cardiology Clinic that she’s led for three years and the Pulmonary Clinic she recently took over. That might seem a bit overwhelming, but Schechter is up to the challenge.

“When I took on leadership of the Pulmonary Clinic about six months ago, it was a huge eye opener for me,” she said. “I had worked in the Cardiology Service Line for so long [a combined total of more than 13 years] and was pretty much molded in their way of doing things.” When Schechter took over the Pulmonary Clinic, she brought that experience with her and did things in the new clinic the way she was used to doing them in Cardiology.

Working “top of scope”
“We worked hard on the care model redesign that’s a major priority for the Clinics and Surgery Center [CSC] now – enabling all staff to work to ‘top of scope,’” Schechter said, explaining that “top of scope” means getting non-nursing work off the nurses to give them more time to do care coordination and engage more often with patients.

To do that, Schechter worked with the Pulmonary Clinic staff to create a back-office team of Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs). “Traditionally, CMAs are in the clinic, rooming patients, taking their vitals and asking about medications,” said Schechter. “Now, we’re enabling CMAs to take on additional duties, freeing nurses to call patients more often, keeping them healthier in their homes and avoiding any healthcare crises.”

“I can do this”
Schechter admits that it was comfortable working with the same people for so long, but there is also, “fun and excitement in working with new people and learning new diseases. The process of doing that in the Pulmonary Clinic helped me learn that I can do those things in other areas.”

When Schechter was promoted to Director of Operations for the Endocrine, Neurosciences, Pulmonary and Cardiology Clinics at the CSC, she realized she would not be able to do things exactly the way she had before. An additional layer of leadership provides a means to the end. “We now have more supervisors in the clinics, and I can focus on program development and overall operations,” she said. “The supervisors take care of staff supervision and day-to-day practice management. I’m loving it.”   

Involving people in the changes
Schechter worked with teams in each of her new clinics, getting them together to talk about work flows and planning how to accomplish what’s required by the new care model. “The meetings were pretty intense,” she said. “I think people are excited but skeptical. They want to have confidence in the new systems and part of that is being at the table from the beginning so they can help design the changes.”

Having a few months under her belt as the leader of all these clinics, she is just beginning to feel comfortable. “I believe I’m starting to understand most of the areas,” she said. “At first, it was overwhelming but now it feels doable.”

A Minnesota native, Schechter earned her nursing degree from the College of St. Catherine in Minneapolis. She enjoys listening to books on Audible during her commute and loves to travel. “My fiancé is a part-time cruise ship physician,” she said. “Sometimes, I go with him. It’s fun!”

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