A Day in the Life of an Administrator: Jennifer Parrott

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Embrace your failures, learn all that you can from them and keep pushing forward.

Welcome to A Day in the Life of an Administrator, our online column, where we sit down with Jennifer Parrott, RN, clinical nurse educator, quality improvement manager and sterile processing department manager at Knoxville (Tenn.) Orthopaedic Surgery Center. Outpatient Surgery Magazine is posting these profiles to give the administrators, directors and other leaders in ambulatory facilities a voice — and to share, in their own words, what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Their stories offer a glimpse into the significant role these individuals play on the OR team and the challenges they face as they work alongside their colleagues.

Outpatient Surgery Magazine (OSM): How did you first come into a leadership role and how has that impacted where you’re at today?
Jennifer Parrott (JP): When I transitioned to a leadership role, I was ecstatic. I felt like I made it. My facility decided to expand and build an addition to the surgery center to start an efficient total joints program. I transitioned to management as an OR manager and SPD manager to ensure the program started off smoothly. My day-to-day duties included working with the staff, physicians, other management, and of course, our patients. Implementing such a program calls for a greater need in staff. We held a job fair — with interviews on the spot — and it turned out to be a great success. This was my first time interviewing people, and I was nervous. You hear all the horror stories out there about how horrible the interview process can be. I didn’t want that to happen. I practiced asking questions up until the day of the job fair. I like to think I have since grown in this area. Now it is five years later, and our program has grown remarkably and is like a well-oiled machine. Throughout that time, I’ve learned through trials and tribulations what it takes to be a leader and not just a manager. I never want to be just a manager — I want to be someone who others turn to for help, guidance or just an ear. I strive to be fair and honest, and I will never ask my staff to perform a task if I am not willing to do it myself.

(Editor’s Note: Ms. Parrott has recently transitioned out of the OR manager role and into a quality management and educator role. She still manages SPD and covers the OR manager as needed.)

OSM: Who was the most influential mentor in your career and why?
JP: My Executive Director Beth Russell. This person is the reason I am who I am today. This person is the reason I have grown professionally. I guarantee if you met Beth, you would agree that she is a role model for all. She’s honest and fair, and no matter how much she has to do, her door is always open. She is the definition of a true leader.

OSM: Finish the following sentence, my ideal perioperative team is...
JP: My ideal perioperative team is one that shows up no matter how hard it gets, one that works together to get the task done, and one that values others’ suggestions and input.

OSM: What makes a good OR playlist? A bad one?
JP: Throughout my career, I’ve encountered several different genres of music within the OR setting. it’s not a secret; OR people love their music. I honestly don’t think there is a bad playlist. The music and the volume depend on the surgeon and the team. The genre generally dictates the mood of the OR. I can say that if it is quiet — with no music playing — it generally means that particular surgery is a high stress one.

OSM: On your commute back from a busy day in the OR, what are you thinking about?
JP: I like to ride in silence unless I have some calls to make. I honestly try to return all calls, or touch base with others, before I arrive home. Once I’m home, I like to decompress and focus on my family. Working in the healthcare setting — especially in a leadership role — can be taxing at times. It’s important to remember that life exists outside of work. I need to remind myself that at times.

OSM: What are some of the most infuriating misconceptions about perioperative nursing?
JP: I’ve been asked if working in the OR is like Grey’s Anatomy. Now even though I’ve never watched this show, I’ve been told all about it. I can assure everyone of this: Working in the OR is nothing like Grey’s Anatomy. Another misconception among some healthcare associates — including some nurses — is that the OR nurses don’t do anything except chart. This is far from the truth. The OR nurse is responsible for the patient, for the positioning and prepping the patient, assisting anesthesia with tasks, gathering supplies as needed, charting and more. The OR nurse is the patient’s voice when they don’t have one. Just like any other nursing area, perioperative nursing is a specialization that requires training and skill.

OSM: If 10-year-old you knew what you were doing for your career, what would she say?
JP: I would like to think that my 10-year-old self would be astonished at the hurdles and obstacles I have overcome to get where I’m at in my career, that she’d tell me I have become a role model for someone. But knowing myself, 10-year-old me would be pushing current me toward my next steps. She would probably be asking why I’m not still in school furthering my education (re-entry in school is a next step of mine).

OSM: What’s one unconventional piece of advice you return to over and over again?
JP: Failure is something to embrace. When I fail at something, I take whatever it was and then try again. There is a quote that I reference regularly by Adrian Sauvageot: “The Only Way to Succeed Is to Fail.”

OSM: What are your go-to activities for self-care and well-being?
JP: Self-care is a concept I had to learn and remind myself to do. When I need a recharge/refresh, I like to take walks and get out in nature. You cannot put a price on being outside in the sun around plants and animals. I love gardening and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. It’s rewarding seeing something that you planted and cared for grow. Depending on the weather, this isn’t always feasible, so I also enjoy sitting down with a good book. One that I can lose myself in, and for a moment, be out of touch.

Note: Outpatient Surgery Magazine would like to thank Jennifer for sharing her life with us! On behalf of our team, we are sending a small token of appreciation to Jennifer and her OR team. If you are an administrator, director or any type of OR leader and would like to share your day and special insights for this online exclusive column, please contact our Editor-in-Chief Jared Bilski at [email protected]. Have a great day! OSM

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