Nurses of Note 2023: The Lead Director for Ambulatory Care Management
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PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their service, sacrifice, and devotion to their patients and colleagues. For the third annual year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe is highlighting nurses who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and whose resilience, creativity, and determination inspire others to do the same.
These honorees are outstanding representatives from the field of nursing, and the stories they share help paint a picture of the difference they make for their patients and communities every single day. Of the 200-plus winners from this year’s program, we’ve selected a handful to engage with more in-depth profiles, which will be published throughout the year. These are their stories.
The Lead Director of Ambulatory Care Management: Latoya O’Gere, DNP, RN, NE-BC, FACHE | Hudson Valley, NY
If there’s one consistent theme with the Nurses of Note awards program, it’s honoring nurses from every corner of the nursing profession. This holds true for our latest winner, Latoya O’Gere, DNP, RN, NE-BC, FACHE. As the Lead Director of Ambulatory Care Management for Optum Advisory, she provides strategic and clinical subject matter expertise to encourage positive financial and quality outcomes for health systems across the US. In short, she helps health systems tackle complex care delivery challenges. She’s been in this role for over a year and loves it!
Latoya’s day-to-day role involves consulting and business development for hospital case management and ambulatory care management. She consults with large health systems throughout the US that are in partnership with Optum Advisory. Some days, she travels to different hospitals to meet with leadership teams, frontline clinicians, and project managers to lead large change management initiatives that drive improvement in length of stay, readmissions, care experience, and quality outcomes for patients. Other days, she discusses progress on performance improvement projects and formulates new service offerings for prospective clients. Oh, and she even manages a team of Audit and Compliance clinicians. She says the best part is knowing that she makes an impact on the lives of patients, families, and communities.
“I love my job at Optum Advisory because I’m leading projects that help patients live healthier lives, and we see positive results in our partnerships with clients,” Latoya said. “I also love being a mentor both for nurses who are new to the profession and nurses who are looking to advance to leadership positions.”
Latoya’s passion for caring for others started from a young age. Originally from Jamaica, Latoya grew up helping her grandmother with insulin injections for diabetes. When she moved to the US, one of her first jobs was working at a children’s home, helping children with physical disabilities. The nurses there encouraged Latoya to pursue nursing because of her proclivity for caring for others. She took their advice and became an LPN shortly thereafter.
After furthering her education to become an RN, Latoya’s first job was at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. She took care of patients with multiple chronic illnesses, many of whom lived in underserved communities and did not have access to food, transportation, or medication.
“I always made it my point of duty to take excellent care of these patients regardless of their background,” Latoya said. “I try my best to make sure they’re connected with the right resources when they’re discharged from the hospital.”
As she advanced her career, she aligned herself with initiatives aimed at improving care for underserved patients and promoting wellness in those communities. Her passion for improving health equity developed along with her career, leading her to join Optum Advisory in 2022. She’s excited to be a part of health equity initiatives and use her platform to promote activities that focus on the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). She also participates in a Health Equity Taskforce that works to integrate health equity solutions into care management programs and other guidance initiatives. She’s a member of Sigma Theta Tau and recently completed the Sigma Health Equity Training, a 10-week course that demystifies and promotes greater understanding of bias, diversity, equity and inclusion, the power of empathy, and promoting a culture of belonging. She even leads a panel discussion within her Business Resource Community at Optum Advisory, focusing on disrupting cultural bias.
Though Latoya wears many fascinating and industry-changing hats in her role with Optum, she shared a few that stand out. She works with her company to tailor care management solutions and processes based on individual hospital and health system needs. Her work promotes community wellness and reduces readmissions, ED utilization, and overall healthcare costs. Independently, it took her three years to become a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). She says being a fellow has provided her with networking access to other healthcare management leaders, along with extensive recognition, competencies, and education.
Last year, Latoya was selected by the American Nurses Association (ANA) to help align the ANA innovation strategy with trends for care delivery that will position nurses as transformative change leaders in the future. As a member of the ANA Innovation Advisory Committee, she collaborates with other nurse leaders who are experts within the space of innovation and care delivery to create resource guides about new care delivery models that nurses throughout the US can use to navigate, lead healthcare initiatives, and solve complex issues in healthcare. If you’re interested in this guide, you can read more here.
For Latoya, recognizing the work of nurses is nothing short of essential. She says nurses play a pivotal role in healthcare and should be recognized for their involvement in many aspects of care delivery, research, education, global policy, and innovation.
“We are a trusted profession that has the ability to transform how we address and impact disparities on a global scale,” she said. “I’m very proud to be a nurse and will continue to lead efforts that improve care for patients, families, and their communities.”
Latoya, thank you for sharing your passion for nurse leadership and development, as well as your extensive background in the health equity space. We enjoy telling the stories of nurses from every corner of the profession, and we’re honored to call you a powerful representative of what it means to be a nurse leader and a Nurse of Note. Thanks for everything you do!
To learn more about Latoya’s life as a nurse, we asked her a few additional questions to get to know her better.
Why did you choose to become a nurse?
I grew up with my grandmother in Jamaica, and as a child, I would help her with her insulin injections for diabetes because she was not able to clearly see how to draw up her insulin doses from her vials. When I migrated to the United States, one of my first jobs was working as a direct care worker at a children’s home, helping children with physical disabilities. The nurses I worked with always told me that I would be a great nurse, so I took their advice and became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), then continued my education and became a Registered Nurse (RN). Looking back on my career and my journey from the bedside to nursing leadership, I have to say the reason I became a nurse holds true to this day: to help people.
What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving as a nurse throughout the pandemic?
I learned that working as a team during the pandemic helped nurses showcase our value, resilience, and expertise. We rose to the occasion and supported patients, families, and communities even when we had our internal fears. We showed up because of the team of people we work with and the people who needed our skills and expertise at the bedside and in the boardroom.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about working in the healthcare industry?
I would tell my younger self to build close relationships with other members of the healthcare team. As nurses, we sometimes work in silos, but we need to work very closely with doctors, social workers, respiratory therapists, lab techs, nursing assistants, pharmacy, imaging, housekeeping, and every member of the healthcare team. When we collaborate, that’s when we see great outcomes for our patients.
What do you do to relax after a stressful day?
I love to go on nature walks with my family. I live in the Hudson Valley region in New York and we have beautiful trails along the Hudson River. Walking those trails and being close to the river is very relaxing!
What changes would you like to see in the nursing field of the future?
I would love to see more innovation in the field of nursing, especially in care delivery and automation. I believe that working at the bedside can be very overwhelming—especially for new nurses entering the profession. These nurses should be supported knowing that there are innovative ways to deliver care, which also inspires the new generation of nurses to find joy in their work and to join our amazing profession.
If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?
I would pick the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I have a positive outlook on life and always have a smile on my face even when things are not going well. I believe I get this positive outlook from my Christian faith knowing that God is always in control.
Thank you for reading about our 2023 Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year. We’re excited to continue the program in 2024! Watch the Nurses of Note homepage to see when nominations open up for next year’s awards program. We can’t wait to share more incredible stories from nurses around the world!