The word secretary may conjure a mental image of a young woman at a typewriter, but if it's hard to picture an administrative professional, that's the point. In 2000, Professional Secretaries Week, observed in the last week of April, was renamed Administrative Professionals Week to reflect their diverse roles, responsibilities, skills and backgrounds.
This diversity is reflected among Boone Hospital Center's administrative staff, who support both clinical and support areas. Going beyond timecards and supply orders, they handle customer service, communications, tech support, project management and event planning. Each employee possesses a unique set of soft and technical skills and brings their individual experiences and passions to their job.
Meet three of Boone Hospital Center's administrative professionals:
Tyler Stark • Billing Coordinator, Cath Lab / Administrative Assistant, Vascular Lab
"I'm a softball geek. That's my true passion," Tyler says. In addition to coaching softball teams, he provides private and group lessons.
Tyler's softball experiences have proven helpful in his various roles as an administrative professional at Boone Hospital Center. He joined the Admissions team in 2014, before taking a position in Scheduling. Having no previous experience as an admin in a medical setting presented some challenges with learning the terminology ("I felt like I was going to medical school," Tyler says), but he enjoyed the challenge and continued to explore career opportunities on the clinical side, taking an Administrative Assistant position in the Vascular Lab. In October 2018, he added a second role, Billing Coordinator for the Cath Lab.
Tyler's two roles let him stay within the Cardiac Service Line while enjoying different perspectives and experiences. As a Billing Coordinator, he works in his private office, making sure all patient procedures are charged correctly. Before this position was created, a nurse or monitor would be asked to take a day or two away from patients to help the department catch up on billing.
In the fast-paced Vascular Lab, Tyler says, "It's all about the flow." He keeps his team organized to assist outpatients. This may require him to assist with transferring a patient from wheelchair to bed, cleaning probes, or to step in anywhere to help his team move forward. He says, "I think being a softball coach and leader in that aspect helps my Boone team."
Tyler's cardiac service line colleagues definitely appreciate his team spirit. Last year, over 20 employees nominated him as a Boone Hospital Center Employee of the Month – a distinction that requires just one nomination.
He's also appreciated and respected by Boone's team of administrative professionals, the B-ALERT committee. He credits other admins with supporting him, answering his questions, and helping him succeed. And in turn, he wants to help others succeed. On the BHC assistants' e-mail list, Tyler warmly welcomes new hires to "the Cool Kids' Club."
"Being sociable helps me a lot," Tyler says. "That's what has helped me grow here. I found out who could help me with what. I know who to go to for anything patient-related or billing-related. And being able to walk through the hospital and know people from everywhere is a great feeling."
Tyler's advice for other administrative professionals is, "Don't be afraid to ask for help! Even if you don't think somebody may know the answer, you'd be surprised what people have backgrounds in."
Yvonne Gibson • Executive Coordinator, Foundation/Administrative Coordinator, Support Services
"People see your name badge, but they don't see everything you really do," says Yvonne Gibson.
Known to many at Boone as Yo, Yvonne joined Boone Hospital Center as an administrative assistant in Support Services in 2004. In 2012, seeking a change of pace but wanting to stay at Boone, she applied for a new coordinator position for the Boone Hospital Foundation. In 2017, she resumed her coverage of Support Services while keeping her Foundation role.
"It took a year, but I think I'm finally balancing it," Yvonne says. "I have two roles that don't intersect, so you need to switch from one train of thought to another." On Mondays and Wednesdays, she works in Support Services. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she's at her desk in the Foundation office. Fridays are for catching up and preparing for the week ahead.
Yvonne also acts as the hospital's Partners in Education liaison with Jefferson Middle School in Columbia. As a Partner in Education, Boone Hospital Center provides the school with nurse's office supplies, health screenings for teachers, and support for some student activities.
As a Foundation Coordinator, Yvonne plans fundraising events like the Gala, golf tournament and sales, and handles day-to-day paperwork. As an Administrative Coordinator for Support Services, she manages various projects and describes her role as the middle-person: "Everything filters through me and if somebody doesn't know, it usually lands on my desk!"
Balancing the needs of two unrelated departments can be tricky, but Yvonne enjoys the variety and the commonalities between her disparate roles: "With both positions, I work with every department in the hospital. There's not a single department I haven't worked with. Not everybody here is that lucky. I know people all over, which is helpful."
Yvonne also enjoys being able to make a difference for patients, despite not working in a clinical area: "There is way more you can do at a hospital than be a doctor or a nurse. In our roles, administrative professionals can step in and be a part of helping patients and families. I think we can forget that, while this is our workplace, for most people who are in the building, it's one of the highest stress times of their lives. They could've just found out they had cancer or left a loved one who's died upstairs. You never know what situation they're walking into or out of."
Whether she's doing work to ensure the facilities and equipment are safe for patients or doing work to raise funds for enhanced care programs, Yvonne takes pride in her work and loves to see the positive impact. She says, "When you get something done and somebody's happy, you feel a sense of accomplishment."
Not only does Yo enjoy being able to help others, she appreciates the help she's received from her teammates: "What I like about working at Boone is that I really feel like I have family here. When I've had anything personal going on in my life, they've helped me when I needed it."
Yvonne's advice for other administrative professionals is, "Take time the introduce yourself to everybody. Don't just stay in your office, get out there! I find that if I'm involved and know people and learn what they do, even if it doesn't have to do with me, it helps me do my job."
Career Administrative Professional
Stacey Roberts, CAP, Executive Assistant, Administration
"When I was little, and all the little girls were playing School and House, I was playing Office. I was the secretary," says Stacey Roberts. Her administrative professional career began after she graduated from Hickey Business School in St. Louis with her associate's in administrative assistance. She worked as an Administrative Assistant at an architectural firm, supported a COO at a large medical practice, assisted the Career Services Director at Westminster College, and worked as a legal assistant for 14 years before she came to Boone in 2016.
"After working for law firms for 14 years, I was ready to get back to my administrative roots," Stacey says. "Lucky for me, when I made the discovery that I was ready to make a change from the legal world, Boone had an opening that seemed to check off all the boxes that I was seeking in a new job."
As an executive assistant, Stacey supports Monica Smith, Boone Hospital's Chief Nursing Officer and Vice-President of Patient Care Services & Ancillary Operations; Michelle Zvanut, Vice-President of Human Resources; and Chief Medical Officer and Vice-President Robin Blount, MD. Supporting three execs can be tough – "One executive is enough!" Stacey laughs – but her organizational, communication and computer skills help her not only support her VPs but add event planning to her list.
"I love to throw a good party, so I'm often included on committees such as the holiday party or our annual service awards banquet. Event planning isn't part of my job description, but it's definitely the most fun part of my job."
While for some, an administrative position may be a step along a career path, for Stacey and many other administrative professionals around the world, being an admin is the path. Stacey is an active member of International Association of Administrative Professionals, an organization that provides education and networking. She's served as a Commissioner for IAAP Conference Education Standing Committee, and in November 2018, received a Certified Administrative Professional certification through IAAP.
"Certification shows that you are dedicated to the profession and that you understand the functions of business to help assist your leader," Stacey explains.
A solid slate of interpersonal, business and technology skills can make a big difference for hospital leaders trying to manage their time effectively in a rapidly changing environment.
"Our job is to keep as much off our leaders' plates, so they can do the big things they need to do. They shouldn't be tied to their desk, trying to figure out how to format a letter. That's something that I should be doing for my executive. If they're bogged down formatting a letter, how will the hospital's issues be resolved? They need to run the hospital, and I should be formatting the letter. That's what I'm here for!"
Stacey knows her efforts are appreciated at Boone: "Our directors understand they can't do their job without an administrative professional to help them. That's not recognized at all businesses."
This was something Stacey truly realized when she took a position at another organization for 6 months, before deciding to return when an executive assistant position opened up. She missed working with everyone at Boone, including her executives and fellow executive assistants. She says, "Even when I was gone, I was back at this hospital at least once a week, having lunch with somebody because I missed the people. There's no place like Boone!"
Upon her return, Stacey set goals to support the hospital's other administrative professionals. She now heads the B-ALERT committee, which was first founded by Boone admins in 1999 to educate and support each other as the hospital transitioned to Kronos for timekeeping. The name, taken from Jack Canfield's The Power of Focus: How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Certainty, is an abbreviation for Blueprint/Action/Learning/Exercise/Relaxation/Think, reflecting the committee's goals. Monthly meetings include presentations, tips and tricks, and fun team-building activities. It's also a space to share concerns, ask questions and build friendships.
"This is a very large hospital, and we have many assistants with varying titles. But we're all assisting a department or set of people, and we're each the only one in our department. I really wanted to bring all of the assistants together to make everybody realize we're all in this together and can lean on each other – this is a team. We need to come together as a group to support each other, especially during times of change and uncertainty."
Stacey is currently studying for her Organizational Management specialty certification through IAAP and plans to attend training to be a Certified World Class Assistant through Office Dynamics in the fall. She also frequently attends webinars and reads often, to better understand her field and what her executives need. She says, "If you're going to be an assistant, read about what's important to the person who you're assisting. Because if you understand what's important to them, you can help them more."
Stacey's advice for any administrative professional, no matter where they work, is "Just keep learning. The more you learn, the more you'll be able to do, the more that your manager is going to feel comfortable handing over to you."