Success Stories

Here are some of OHSU employees' career success stories.

Natoya Carruthers

Natoya Carruthers
Physician Assistant Program Student

OHSU Career Path: PAS → Certified Medical Assistant/Scribe → Physician Assistant Program Assistant

I started as a PAS in the Dermatology Department. After one year of attending MA school and working full-time, I received my CMA certification and transitioned to being a Certified Medical Assistant. Being a CMA has been really exciting, as I have been able to work with patients more directly and assist in multiple surgical procedures. The skills that I have gained over time helped with my applications to Physician Assistant programs across the country. In December 2016, I was accepted to the OHSU Physician Assistant Program—my number one choice! I will begin school in June 2017, and I am excited about this next step in my career path.

With my current position as a Medical Assistant and Scribe, I have developed a strong medical vocabulary and gained experience with identifying a variety of dermatological conditions. I get the opportunity to obtain detailed patient histories, administer local anesthesia, and complete clinical notes. These skills will be crucial to my role as a Physician Assistant. The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I made a difference in a patient’s life, contributed to their wellbeing, and/or helped to relieve suffering for them or their family.

"There are many helpful resources here at OHSU, and a wealth of knowledgeable employees. This is a great place to learn, make connections and grow."

Karen Cha

Karen Cha
Clinical Operations Manager
Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Services

OHSU Career Path: Student Intern →  Front Desk PAS →  PAS Specialist →  PAS Supervisor →  Clinical Operations Manager

The need to work well with others is applicable to any role at OHSU, and a good practice to maintain wherever you work. My success has been largely due to teamwork. I work hard to maintain strong, collaborative relationships with other departments. I am always willing to jump in to help. If I don’t know the answer or have a solution, I find one. I never believed in road blocks!

I started as a student intern in Orthopedics shadowing the practice manager and other schedulers. I took an opportunity to apply for a position as a front desk PAS. I worked the front desk for about 3 years before advancing to a PAS Resource Specialist.

Then I became the PAS Supervisor for our Beaverton office. In order to encompass the scope my role requires me to perform at, my title changed to Clinical Operations Manager. I love helping my team grow.

Before my current role, I attended the Conflict Management series. This was extremely helpful with patients and co-workers. I've shared and imparted those skills to my staff. The Leadership Development and OPex classes provided tools to help structure my daily routine and implement new standard work my department required.

"OHSU is an organic community that is constantly growing and shifting. Because of this changing environment, it's paramount that we work well together. Always be kind to those you work with and around. You may need to collaborate with them in the future."

Natalie Gutzler

Natalie Gutzler
Clinical Supervisor
Family Medicine, South Waterfront

OHSU Career Path: Student Worker → Relief PAS Specialist → Team Assistant PAS Specialist → Lead PAS Specialist → Clinical Supervisor

In December of 2011, I was hired as a Student Worker for Family Medicine, South Waterfront and was given the opportunity to become their Relief PAS specialist. While working here, I've gained a large of amount of experience that helped me transition to a Team Assistant PAS specialist, then to a Lead PAS specialist, and finally a Clinical Supervisor for the department. I recently completed Managed Care Coordination training and I had the opportunity to assist with that role as well.

I love having the opportunity to work closely with my coworkers and leadership team to make sure our patients have the best experience possible at our clinic. Completing Emerging Leaders program helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses as a leader and provided me with a lot of helpful tools for navigating challenging situations. It really boosted my confidence and helped me feel prepared to better support my coworkers and working with patients.

My clinic has always been very supportive of my growth. I have been encouraged every step of the way, and I would not have had these opportunities without their guidance and support!

"Get involved! I have learned a lot and met fantastic people through various committees and projects. Continue learning. Take advantage of classes and other career advising opportunities. Find your passion. If you find joy and passion in your work, you will be setting yourself up for success."

Binh Nguyen Thi

Binh Nguyen Thi
Web Communication Specialist
Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

OHSU Career Path: Office Specialist → Clinical Care Coordinator → Scheduler → Administrator Coordinator → Web Communication Specialist

I started at OHSU School of Dentistry in 2008 as an Office Specialist. After a few months, I was encouraged to apply for the Clinical Care Coordinator position for the Sellwood Group Practice. The Group Practice Leader, Dr. Lynn Whitley DMD., later became my mentor. I learned a great deal from her and learned about how to run the Group Practice on the administrative side. I was there for 6-7 years until Dr. Whitley encouraged me to move forward with my career.

I briefly transitioned over to be a scheduler for the Knight Cancer Community Oncology Department until I climbed to be an Admin. Coordinator for Anesthesiology. With a lot of department support, resources, and my manager, Debi Stabler, I took on more responsibility and obtained knowledge in the website and IT world. After working within the department for a year, I became a Web Communications Specialist in December of 2016.

Currently, I enjoy being able to learn new skills and take on new challenges. This position has allowed me to have a great work-life balance, and it gives me the opportunity to grow in a field that I always wanted to be in. I also like that I can continue to be part of the Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine Department where they have supported me and encouraged me with this transition.

"Always try to stay positive and be helpful. You will be able to learn a lot from people when you're happy and positive. Take on new challenges and volunteer for more responsibility. It will help you learn new skills for your future. If you try and you fail, continue to try because failing is part of learning."

Mo Nishiyama

Mo Nishiyama
Technical Writer 1
ITG Performance Improvement & Business Operations

OHSU Career Path: Help Desk Analyst → Field Tech → Technical Writer

My years of experience working as Help Desk Analyst and Field Technology Analyst taught me the importance of building relationships with individuals in other departments at OHSU, understanding their needs, and identifying solutions that would enable them to purse great work without hindrance.

In order to take my career to the next level, I identified skills I needed to learn. I took CWE workshops, finished certification courses offered through Portland State University’s Center for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE) program, attended industry conferences, built relationships with local tech professionals, read business books, and studied Harvard Business Review and Fast Company articles. I integrated my acquired knowledge in my daily work. I also promoted an inclusive and empowering workplace culture.

Doing meaningful work in my previous position that demonstrated my strengths, values, and personal brand caught the attention of influential colleagues. They encouraged me to apply for the Technical Writer 1 job with ITG's Performance Improvement and Business Operations group. I’m thriving in this new position.

"Advocate for your own career growth. No one else is going to do that for you, or hand you a new job. If there are thankless-but-important tasks which need to get done, dive in and master them—others will notice. Become so good they can't ignore you!"

Alphonse Nwerem

Alphonse Nwerem
Performance Improvement Consultant
Quality and Safety Management

OHSU Career Path: Food Service Worker → Pharmacy Technician → CWE Performance Improvement Specialist → Performance Improvement Consultant

In 1999, I started in Food Service and volunteered for Central Pharmacy. In 2001, the pharmacy manager told me I was doing a wonderful job and offered me a part-time position as a Pharmacy Technician. I worked as a pharmacy technician for 13 years and I still miss my pharmily to this day. During my time in the pharmacy, I obtained a bachelor's degree in General Science and master's degree in Health Administration. After my degrees, I had to reevaluate my aspiration. I grew a passion for process improvement, and I started seeking for a career in quality improvement. Without relevant experience and skills for my new aspiration, I turned to CWE Center for assistance, and they exposed me to a world I didn't know existed.

Career counseling provided me the focus I needed to start building my career plan, and the classes helped me develop skills to start chipping away the immovable rock that was blocking my career path. With an unquenchable thirst to learn more and apply what I learned, I continued to grow and network. I connected with the staff I wanted to work with. I learned about the required skills, attitude, education and experience for the position. Through this connection, I was able to build supportive network and meet mentors to help me transition to where I am today.

"Invest in yourself by leveraging every opportunity to learn something new. Be patient, hardworking, persistent, humble and thankful. Ask for guidance and support from people around you. Build a relationship with your colleagues and manager."

Anne Rudwick

Anne Rudwick
Associate Dean for Finance and Administration
School of Dentistry

OHSU Career Path: Office Specialist → Administrative Assistant → Administrative Coordinator → Financial Analyst → Department Administrator → Associate Dean for Finance & Administration

In January 2001, I was hired as temporary Office Specialist doing general administration for Division of Cardiology in the School of Medicine. I was excited for the opportunity to work at OHSU, but little did I know that this temporary position was the beginning of an amazing 16-year career.

In April 2001, I became a full-time Office Specialist, and by November, I had the opportunity to transition to an Administrative Assistant, supporting the Heart Transplant and Catheterization Lab. In the fall of 2005, a 12-week certification program in research administration gave me the training necessary to transition to the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, where I would spend the next ten years of my OHSU career.

During that time, I grew from a Pre-Award Specialist (Administrative Coordinator) to a Department Administrator, supporting a department that would transition to the newly accredited OHSU/PSU School of Public Health. In March 2016, an opportunity in the School of Dentistry as the Associate Dean for Finance and Administration opened. I applied and took the role in July 2016.

I have had an amazing opportunity to engage my OHSU colleagues, managers, educators, and peers, who have mentored, educated, and supported me over the years. OHSU has truly molded me into the individual I am today. I am grateful to be a part of and continue to be inspired by this amazing, mission driven community.

"Reach out to people who are in the areas that you are interested in. Ask how their career evolved and what their work entails. Talk to your manager about your goals and see how your current work could align with those goals. Seek out training and educational opportunities. OHSU is an academic health center; we value learning. OHSU is deeply invested in training employees to grow and advance."

Kellen Strickland

Kellen Strickland
Clinical Nurse Manager

OHSU Career Path: Ambulatory Registration → Certified Nursing Assistant → Registered Nurse → Clinical Nursing Manager

I started at OHSU on June 12, 2006 in Ambulatory Registration. I was one of two original information desk staffers at the Center for Health & Healing when the building opened. While working in registration I obtained my CNA license and also worked on completing my nursing pre-requisites. With my CNA license, I transitioned to a CNA for Orthopedics in January 2008. While working as a CNA, I finished my nursing pre-requisites and obtained my ADN at Mt. Hood Community College. By September 2010, I passed my NCLEX and was hired as an RN for the department. I have always loved my orthopedic family and was thrilled to be able to continue working with them.

In March of 2011, I started the RN to BSN program here at OHSU while working full-time on Orthopedics. I was a preceptor to nursing students, a charge nurse, and a Unit Improvement Champion. I also served on the inpatient optimization steering committee for two years. In December 2015, I was hired as the Clinical Nursing Manager for Surgical and Cosmetic Dermatology. I’m still learning a lot, and I enjoy coming to work every day. I have felt privileged to work at OHSU since day one and can’t imagine working anywhere else.

"Find someone in a position you want for yourself and reach out to them. Ask them how they got where they are. Ask their advice for how you might reach your next goal. Establish realistic goals and celebrate accomplishments."

Jon Wilson

Jon Wilson
House Officer

OHSU Career Path: Relief Medical Laboratory Scientist → Specimen Processing Supervisor → House Officer

After receiving a B.S. in Medical Laboratory Science from Weber State University, I began working as a relief Medical Laboratory Scientist in the Core Lab. The diversity of testing in Core Lab allowed me to see advancements in lab instrumentation. During my time pursuing a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration from Pacific University, I retained my relief position in the Core Lab for Transfusion Services. Since I had two positions at OHSU in areas that had a plethora of projects, I was able to volunteer and put into practice the skills I was learning in school.

To help me advance, I found a mentor I respected and wanted to learn from who worked in my field of interest. I made a formal ask for mentorship, but I know many people who keep it informal. What matters most is keeping the communication lines open and thanking them for their time.

After completing my Master's degree, I was offered a position in the Core Lab as the Specimen Processing Supervisor. In this position I have had the great opportunity to work with many intelligent, thoughtful, patient-centered people.

"Volunteer to take on projects that your supervisor may not need to oversee directly. Showing this initiative often helps them understand that you can handle tasks proactively and that you have a vested interest in your team's success."