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7 Career Tips for Reach High as You Can Day

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Today is National Reach as High as You Can Day, and Beverly Edwards of Episcopal Retirement Services has seven pieces of advice for those working to reach goals in their careers or elsewhere.

When Edwards worked on a hospital internship in Tennessee during her early 20s, the experience taught her that she wanted to be a nursing home administrator. But one director of nursing discouraged her from pursuing that dream.

During the internship, “This lightbulb went off, and I said, ‘This is it. This is what I want to do,’ Edwards said recently.

An excited Edwards told the nursing director, “I am going to be a nursing home administrator.”

But he told her, “You will never be a nursing home administrator,” Edwards said. “He shared that he had been serving in the industry for 40 years, and he had been trying to become a nursing home administrator, and it had been so challenging, and he had not realized that. And so he knew that I would not.”

Some advice isn't helpful

In the moment, Edwards “was pretty deflated,” she said. “But anybody that knows me knows that there’s a passion that flames up inside of me, and I just – after I got over the shock – I just listened, and I didn’t do a whole lot of responding to him. But I thought, ‘This is what I want to do, and this is what I’m going to do.’

And she did, in 2003.

“Once I became licensed, I called that director of nursing, and I thanked him so much for taking me through the program, that internship, and I let him know that on that day, I was holding my license as a nursing home administrator,” she recalled.

Her initial interest in health care was stirred as a teen when she cared for her maternal and paternal grandmothers, one who was living with Alzheimer’s disease and the other needing help simply because she was aging.

After Edwards obtained her license – but still looking for a nursing home to lead – she spoke with a nurse consultant who suggested Edwards might make a better assistant nursing home administrator. That suggestion further fueled Edwards’ motivation. She kept working and kept looking out for possible openings.

She believes the discouraging advice she received from each person was partly because she is Black.

Edwards became the interim administrator at the Good Samaritan Center in the Louisville, Ky., suburb of Jeffersontown on a three-month trial basis. The center had 98 beds for skilled nursing care, 24 Affordable Living apartments, and two market-based apartments on a 17-acre campus.

Unexpected success for a 'rookie'

It was “essentially unheard-of that ‘rookies’ would be able to serve in such a large campus,” Edwards said. “After three months of being an intentional interim, I was named administrator.”

So she made another call – to the nurse-consultant friend.

“I shared, ‘Hey, did you see the On the Move section of our company newsletter? I said, ‘I’m going to J-town.’

The woman congratulated Edwards, and they had a pleasant conversation.

Each disappointing conversation with someone who was more experienced in the industry “could have been deflating so much that it stopped me in my tracks, but this is something that I had determined that I wanted to do, and I was making preparation to do those things to make it a reality,” Edwards said. “So I’m just thankful that I didn’t stop and just continued to move forward.”

Edwards, who joined ERS in 2016, was executive director of its Episcopal Church Home community in Louisville. She recently was promoted to ERS Vice President of Residential Healthcare.

Edwards' 7 tips to improve your career or reach goals...

Seven pieces of advice Beverly Edwards offered for people wanting to overcome such suggestions or other obstacles:

  • “Make sure that the voice you hear most frequently – the voice inside your head – is positive. Because with that voice being positive, you will continue to take tangible steps to move yourself in the direction that you want to go. But if that voice is wavering, then once you encounter someone throwing that wet blanket, so to speak, on your dream, you’ll easily steer off that path and maybe even become stagnant.”
  • “Once you believe it, you will take the necessary steps to move forward,” Edwards said. “But that voice has to be solid.”
  • It’s important to be flexible and look for alternatives if you’re running into roadblocks, she said. For example, the man who said she’d never be able to become an administrator because he had failed in his attempts perhaps hadn’t been willing or able to move to other cities or had family responsibilities that prevented him from accepting an unpaid internship.
  • Work hard, and keep improving yourself: “The only way it’s going to manifest is if you’re going to prepare yourself,” she said.
  • Continue educating yourself, training, and working with mentors.
  • Set higher expectations for yourself than others have for you. That way, if you meet your expectations, you’ll exceed theirs.
  • Look for inclusive employers who value you and your skills. She said: “ERS has been like a breath of fresh air. I’m treated as an individual. I’m known. I feel valued. I feel respected. And I’ve felt that in any capacity in which I’ve worked.” She said that had not been the case with every organization she had worked for. ERS is one of Cincinnati’s Top Workplaces and has been for the past 12 years.

When You Love What You Do, It Shows

From our clinical providers to our maintenance and dining services staff, we have one goal: to help Cincinnati, Louisville, and Indiana seniors continue “Living well into the future.”

Do you have a passion for providing person-centered, dignified care? Then we invite you to explore our open opportunities here. If you have specific questions, contact us!

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Kristin Davenport
By
April 14, 2022
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS in 2014 after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director with American City Business Journals. Her role at ERS has ignited her passion for making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city, and she spends time with residents as a SAIDO® Learning lead supporter. Kristin is the executive producer and co-host of the Linkage Podcast for ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex live in Lebanon, Ohio, with their two daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon, where she teaches painting and has an art studio, Indium Art.
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