Deena Smith's Second Act
What do you want to be when you grow up? For many people—regardless of age—that can be a tough question to answer. Hopefully, in the end, you find a career that you love! Deena Smith has been lucky enough to have a first act as a traffic engineer, making sure cars were moving efficiently on San Diego streets—and now a second act as a nurse manager over patient placement at Sharp HealthCare making sure that patients are moving efficiently through the health system.
Please give a brief overview of your background and what led you to patient flow?
When I was in college, I was interested in healthcare. In fact, I thought about medical school at one point, but in the end, I decided to pursue engineering. I worked for years as a traffic engineer in San Diego where my role was focused on improving processes that led to safer, more efficient traffic patterns for the city’s residents. In that role, I worked with different members of the public from business owners to government officials, and so I understood the importance of customer focus and looking at a situation from someone else’s perspective. I loved my job, but the idea of working in healthcare stayed with me, and in 2010 I made the decision to become a nurse and knew right away that I wanted to work for Sharp. My first few years there, I worked directly with patients, which I loved. Then I learned about an opportunity in patient placement and it seemed like the perfect way to use my combined experiences—improving processes, maintaining safety
and working collaboratively to solve problems. When I was hired, I felt like I had hit the lottery!