Krista Baty is Chief Nursing Officer at Cedar Park Regional Medical Center, Texas. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked Krista to share her perspective on her leadership role in a healthcare organization, and some of the road blocks standing in the way for women’s health.
Over Krista’s career, she has risen the ranks and experienced life and work in several healthcare systems. While advancements have been made to see more females in leadership positions, Krista has found that there still can be a glass ceiling that is preventing more women from breaking through to leadership roles.
“Eighty to eighty five percent of nurses are women. In leadership and administrative roles, that’s not always the case,” said Krista. “I’ve been in three different hospital systems… and you still get the sense of the ‘good old’ boys’ network.’ As a female, I feel that I had to work twice as hard to have and build that trust early on. It doesn’t just come with the title.”
On the other hand, Krista acknowledges the fact that progress has been made for women in the workplace, especially in healthcare. But now is not the time to drop the ball.
“Overall, the biggest breakthrough has been the need to raise awareness for women to take time for their health, and make access to health check-ins more easily available.”
“Here at Cedar Park, we have a dedicated women’s health day. It gives an opportunity for [women] to see our facility and what we can offer. We hand out coupons for mammograms, and have physicians available to talk about women’s health. We also have more ‘fun’ activities to educate the people attending about women’s health.”
The modern workplace may be a more level playing field for women than it has been in the past, but it still isn’t always amenable to women’s health issues (or men’s, for that matter). “There’s nothing worse than having to take days off work to get a mammogram,” said Krista. “You end up thinking about missing work, not the mammogram.”
“In the next five years, I envision taking healthcare to the work place. Making it more convenient. It is important to have mobile healthcare where you can provide those health screenings or educational sessions … actually at the workplace. It’s our responsibility as health care organizations to get outside of our four walls of the hospital to reach the community.”
With busy lifestyles, work, children, and growing lists of commitments, women often push their own health and wellbeing to the side. Krista says it is high time we work to change that.
“We still think of healthcare as Monday through Friday with a two-hour lunch,” she said. “For women on the go, there are not a lot of outpatient hospital settings where you can go get a treatment, like a mammogram, on a Saturday.”
This same attention to taking care of your own health is something Krista tries to instill at her own workplace.
“Often times, nurses have long hours (12.5 hour shifts), with not a lot of times for breaks – lunch, snack, bathroom or even just a moment to recoup,” she said. “That can lead to stress, bad food choices… you name it. We must ensure hospitals are advocating for their nurse staff… providing nutritious snacks at lunch, giving proper breaks.”
In healthcare, you not only take care of patients, you also take care of the people who take care of patients.
Krista has worked to put protocols in place to ensure her staff is taking breaks and even bringing the concept of mobile healthcare to her staff when they administer annual flu shots.
“It is easy to forget about taking the time for ourselves when we are balancing work, family and other commitments,” said Krista. “But the more we can make preventive healthcare easier for both men and women, in our daily lives and in the workplace, the healthier of a society we can become.”