Throughout her 27-year career as a diagnostic radiology technician, Sandra Page has seen her field from the perspective of a wanderer and a homebody. Before honing her skills at UNC Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, North Carolina, Page worked as a travel tech, filling in staffing shortages in places as far-flung as Washington, D.C., Boston, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
When she was given an opportunity to advance her career at WakeMed Health and Hospitals, Page decided to settle back down in Raleigh, accepting a cardiovascular imaging team lead position with the condition that she earn a bachelor’s degree within five years. Not only did Page complete that program through Excelsior College of Albany, New York, she pressed on, earning a master’s degree in health care administration and management from the University of North Alabama and a Lean Six Sigma green belt.
Page parlayed that schooling into a new placement with the performance improvement department at UNC Rex, where she was assigned to manage programs that worked on reducing adult mortality throughout the hospital. Later, this work led her into a dual role, overseeing the Heart and Vascular Hospital Quality Programs as well as managing its electrophysiology department. The job “took the two things that I’m really passionate about and put them together,” she said. In addition to being an advocate for continuing education, Page’s focus on efficiency and performance improvement also expanded her appreciation of developing a work-life balance. At UNC Rex, she learned under Julia Woodson, a manager who believed that worker efficiency and quality of effort are diminished if staff are pressed to think about nothing else but their jobs.
“She was the one who said ‘you’re ineffective after a certain amount of time,” Page said; “that you have to replenish your soul. You can’t have bright ideas and clear thinking if you don’t have a clear head. I have implemented that same philosophy.”
For Page, that replenishment of soul and clarity of mind can be found with the wind in her face on the open road. An avid cyclist of some 11 years, she initially took up the hobby for the exercise. When she began to expand the range of her rides from four miles to 10, 20, and beyond, however, she found a crew of riders with whom to plot out much farther trips.
“Another nurse and malpractice attorney were riding for diabetes from Raleigh to Southern Pines – about 85 miles – and they were going to spend the night, and then ride back the next day,” Page recalled. “They said, ‘Let’s train for this, and then fundraise for it.’”
Page describes herself as always “down for some kind of a cause,” having ridden to fundraise for charities battling multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and cancer, as well as for the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, which builds houses for those in need. That attitude of giving back has grown into a motivational cause for her larger group cycling activities. So, once a year, Page, her husband, and some of their buddies mark out a week on their calendar to organize a long ride.
“We start somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina, we camp along the way, and we cycle all the way to the coast,” she said. “One year we started in Sparta, North Carolina and ended in Cape Hatteras at a lighthouse on the Outer Banks. That year, that was 462 miles over seven days.”
Often accompanying Page on those long rides is her husband of nine years, Robert, whom she hooked into riding not long after the two met. The couple travels together often, especially when tackling larger rides. Sandra Page’s bikes of choice are a manual-shift Fuji and an electronic-shift KHS; and although she’s no fan of mountain biking, she loves to ride a fat tire bike on the beach.
And while the Pages are comfortable mapping out long-distance challenge rides, they may most often be found taking advantage of the 100 miles of paved, multi-use trail paths along the Raleigh Greenway. Some stretches, like the Neuse River Greenway Trail, provide nearly 30 miles of scenic riding through wetlands, historical sites and agricultural fields.
“We’re really fortunate,” Sandra Page said; “you can do 50 miles one way or another and never be on a road near traffic. The breeze feels good, the river looks good; you can look at that flowers, look at those trees, and look at wildlife. You don’t have to think about anything if you don’t want to, but if you are working on something, it helps. It’s a sense of accomplishment when you get done, and self-care is especially important during the [novel coronavirus] pandemic.”
Rides like those, even if they’re just 45 minutes to an hour, offer Page a chance to get some fresh air and clear her head. Some days, they yield a needed adrenaline rush; on others, they provide a sense of calm and peace that help her refocus after a mentally intense day at work. In either case, they offer the key to the work-life balance that helps her stay fresh and able to meet the demands of a job that requires significant, sustained focus.
“It’s kept me to a point where I feel like I’m healthy and I’m out there doing something for my health when I’m doing it,” Page said. “Some days you’re exhausted, and you get on the bike and you start spinning. If you’re sitting on the seat correctly and maintaining the correct posture, you can get a good core workout.”
Where those trips have taken her nearly pales in comparison to where they may yet lead her. In 2020, the Pages had to forego a planned cycling trip down the Danube River in Germany due to the global pandemic; instead, they made a pilgrimage to Zion National Park. They’re still contemplating trips to Portugal, or California wine country, as much as their next ride down the Carolina coast; but, as Page says, “where it will take you – where you can go and do it – is part of those new experiences.”