Healthcare Leader: Linda Blair, Spencerian College

Linda's Photo 2Linda Blair

Dean and Chief Academic Officer at Spencerian College

Education:  B.S. in Nursing and Masters in Education from Spalding University

Hobbies: My hobbies are following the activities of my two teenage grandchildren, Brad and Blair. That takes me to the soccer field, plays, musical performances and a variety of dance shows and competitions.

What was your first job in healthcare? What did you take away from that job that you use today?

My first job in healthcare was as a staff nurse on the psychiatric unit at Veterans Hospital in Louisville. In that position I learned a lot about effective communication and handling challenging interactions. I use those skills daily in my current position. I learned a great respect for our veterans and the value of having a good mentor. I had a wonderful mentor and I try daily to mentor others in my current position.

How do you approach management and leadership in your organization?

I like to think that I lead by example and that I don’t micromanage. I have a highly skilled academic team and I am their cheerleader. Each of our medical programs is directed by an individual with excellent experience in their field and skill as an educator. I work very closely with the Executive Director of our college, Jan Gordon. I am her backup and she is mine.

What was the most significant event/development at Spencerian College in 2015?

The most significant event at Spencerian College in 2015 has been our unique partnerships with Hardin County and Oldham County High Schools. Hardin County students completed a phlebotomy course via Go To Meeting, with our instructor going to their school on Fridays to complete the lab portion of the course. Oldham County students utilized Go To Meeting to take a Developmental Psychology course along with the students on the Spencerian campus.

Another group of students took a Patient Care Assistant course via class recordings and the lab and clinical portion was supervised by our instructor. This Fall a group of nine Oldham County students began their senior year in high school at Spencerian College with dual enrollment in math, English and Practical Nursing foundational courses. These high school students are a part of a program  we have for high school seniors called Jump Start. It allows the students to begin the college experience while in high school without the tuition commitment.

What’s one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. That advice is something that has helped me throughout my career and in all aspects of my life. No matter how daunting a project might be, if you consistently work on it and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed, you will be able to reach your goal. I always share this advice with our students at orientation.

Where do you do your best thinking?

I do my best thinking when I am brainstorming with my boss or preparing to brainstorm with her. I have to be prepared to think outside the box.

As a leader, we all face many challenges. What challenges do you face in your role that are unique because you work in healthcare?

In higher education you are faced with many expectations from accrediting agencies, regulatory agencies, the government, the students, the public and the healthcare community. Expectations include   high percentage of student retention and placement of graduates, high certification and licensure pass rates, graduates who are professional, and standards that mirror those in the healthcare community. Working with students preparing for healthcare careers offers the unique challenge of developing not only the needed knowledge and skills, but also the heart of a healthcare professional. It is difficult to teach   the heart piece, and it is also difficult to teach work ethics and professionalism.

What is your very best skill- the thing that sets you apart from others?

I think my best skill is that I can find a positive in every situation. This helps me to persevere in the midst of challenges. It also helps me in counseling students and faculty members. A positive attitude can be contagious.

If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry’s problems overnight, which would it be?

I would eliminate the Affordable Care Act and all of the changes and challenges that are associated with it.

How do you revitalize yourself?

I revitalize myself by taking a vacation and realizing how much I miss being in the middle of things at work after about a week.

What opportunities do you see for Spencerian College in 2016? Challenges?

Since Spencerian College is now approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to offer bachelor’s degree programs, we now have increased opportunities to develop new programs.

I also think that we will be able to expand our partnerships with other Counties in Kentucky and possibly Southern Indiana. The challenges will be many in 2016, because of increased regulations and governmental control over higher education. The expectations for higher education will continue to increase.