By John Wallace
When it comes to health care professionals, it is not uncommon for individuals to possess an altruistic personality. They are often selfless and self-sacrificing. It is as if they are constantly the personification of the phrase often heard around Christmas: “It is better to give than to receive.”
One such health care professional is Bon Secours Mercy Health (BSMH) Regional Director-Imaging Sandy Michalski. Her journey started with an aptitude test in high school.
“I scored high in health care-related interests, and I knew I would choose a career in which I could help people. The day I injured my foot by stepping on a needle, I had an X-ray. When I peeked at the film (back then it was film), and saw the needle nicely lodged in my foot, I knew radiology was for me,” Michalski says. “I was fascinated by the technology and felt very cared for by the technologist who took my X-ray.”
Many a technologist have launched a career by their interactions with patients. And, no doubt, Michalski’s approach to imaging and her many responsibilities will motivate more individuals to enter the field. It will also motivate those already working within imaging to reach new heights.
When asked why she loves her job, her answer was a reflection of her outlook on life.
“I draw energy from other people. Building relationships is one of my strengths, and imaging touches so many aspects of the care continuum. I enjoy the opportunities to interact with folks in different roles, and work on aligning towards common goals. I feel great joy in collaborating with others in order to enhance the services we are providing, and the care we show to our patients,” Michalski said. “The organization I have dedicated my career to is a faith-based organization, and that foundation is what drives me to be better, and take good care of those in need, whether that is staff or patients.”
“I believe that any thing that I have accomplished in my life, I did not do alone. However, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when a person I mentored as a student or tech early in their career, achieves their goals in their chosen profession; whether it is advancement within the imaging field, or something different,” she added.
As an imaging leader, Michalski said it is important for her to adjust her approach to best connect with those she works with at BSMH.
“Understanding how differently people learn, communicate, manage change, and their need for recognition is crucial in gaining buy-in. The only constant in health care is change and being able to lead others through change is key,” she explained. “Realizing the difference between managing and leading is often lost. Having the ability to understand an individual’s viewpoint, and from what lens they are viewing a situation, helps me to tailor the approach and conversation.”
Michalski stressed that one lesson she has learned during her career is the importance of planning as well as the vital role rest plays in being the best possible version of one’s self.
“Be organized and deliberate in what you say and what you do. Learn how to positively influence and support others in order to build trust. When communicating, answer questions before they are asked. And, most importantly, learn to disconnect,” she said. “You cannot be affective if you are not firing on all cylinders.”
Michalski added that it is also very important to be an active learner and stay abreast of what is happening in the industry. She said it is also important to work on one’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Someone once told me I tend to over-analyze situations. I realized what I thought was a skill, caused me not to trust my gut. I have a strong intuition and was convinced to just go with it. Being self-aware is very important, take time to self-reflect and know your strengths and weaknesses. Share your strengths and work to improve your weaknesses,” she said. “Anyone can manage, not everyone can be a leader.”
Away from work, Michalski has the “best” family.
“My wonderful, supportive husband, Mark, of 27 years still makes me laugh out loud! He is retired and takes care of everything from the house to our beautiful yard, which helps me be able to relax after working long hours,” she explained. “I have two favorite sons; Ross is 26. He is one of the happiest, loving-life people I know. He takes care of dogs that are being trained as service and therapy dogs and loves that he is doing something that will change someone’s life forever. Davis is 22 and will soon move to Indianapolis to begin a career in orthopedic medical device sales. We will miss him terribly. He is the calming influence on the family, a sports nut and has a great sense of humor. He is a true gentleman. And, we can’t forget Denver-Dog. He came into our lives as Ross’ therapy dog, but soon grew to be all of ours’ therapy dog.”