Sanford nursing supervisor driven to build team leaders

Carrie Hawley supports team and patients as a leader and mentor

Sanford nursing supervisor driven to build team leaders

Carrie Hawley, BSN, has always been passionate about helping people, but it wasn’t until she decided to be a nurse that she knew she found the right career path.

“I didn’t choose this profession,” she said. “This profession chose me.”

Now, she is the supervisor of ambulatory nursing at the Sanford Health Watertown Clinic, where she leads a team of passionate nurses and staff.

“What’s really rewarding about having a team is being able to provide influence,” said Hawley. “I try to lead by example, and it’s been great to see my team succeed and evolve. I love how small things we do on the back end help our patients. As a leader, I am still impacting patient care.

“You have to constantly roll with the punches. I am a very driven person. By the time I accomplish one goal, I’m already looking for the next: What can we do better? How can I support my team?” said Hawley.

Building resilience

With her background in nursing, Hawley is used to thinking on her feet and adapting as the unexpected challenge presents itself. And this is a skill she has helped instill in her staff.

“There are days where I have thought I was experiencing the toughest one yet,” said Hawley, “but at the end, I am still standing — and so is my team — because we are constantly supporting one another.”

She continued, “On those intense days, you’re building resilience, and that resilience is where you find your compassion. Those are the moments where I can dig deep for my team and for our patients.”

Succeeding as a team

It is that collaboration between colleagues which has led to a thriving environment, one where Hawley looks to her team to help find the answers.

As a leader who was selected to participant in the EmBe Women’s Leadership program, Hawley remembers how much her experience and mentorship helped her in her current role. She strives to offer the same developmental opportunities to those under her leadership.

“When it comes to solutions, I bring in my team,” said Hawley. “They are working in the clinic and with patients every day. I recognize their value, and I want their input. The most fulfilling thing for me is helping them grow.”

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Because of their team approach, her clinic was awarded at a state and national level for increasing colorectal cancer screening rates.

“We were part of a pilot program that was determining best practices for improving screening rates through FIT and Cologuard tests,” said Hawley.

FIT (fecal immunochemical test) and Cologuard are at-home tests that use a stool sample to screen for colorectal cancer. Through motivational interviewing and education provided by health coaches and RN care managers, the clinic significantly improved their colonoscopy rates.

“What we found is that people would rather have one test every 10 years. Because we have our own surgical center here in the clinic, we were able to provide a colonoscopy if that was the patient’s preference,” said Hawley. “Being recognized for our work was really exciting. My team at Sanford Health is excellent.”

Multiple departments partnered together to increase patient screening rates, with strategic leadership instrumental to their achievement. Not only were department supervisors leading the charge, but individual staff helped spearhead the efforts.

“I hate to use the cliché ‘We’re all in this together,’ but we really are. Even thinking about all the ways my team has had to innovate and make adjustments in this last year, it’s pretty incredible,” said Hawley. “We have won some cool awards and have had some outstanding recognition, but when I look back at my career in 20 years, I think 2020 is going to be my biggest accomplishment.”

Leading at home

In addition to leading at work, Hawley has put the same skills to use at home with her children.

“My husband, 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son have been super supportive as I have been completing my master of business administration,” Hawley said. “We have taught our kids independence, resilience and leadership, and they have really stepped up.

“At home and at work, I am setting an example for my kids,” she added. “This last year threw a lot at us, but I’m proud of the fact that they were able to see that even when things got tough, I dug deep and kept going.”

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Posted In Cancer Screenings, Leadership in Health Care, Nursing and Nursing Support, People & Culture, Sanford Stories, Watertown