Meet Katherine Salkanovic, Director of Patient Experience

Meet Katherine Salkanovic, Director of Patient Experience 

Some of our best employees at Cure 4 The Kids Foundation have had the opportunity to grow in their careers at the same time our organization has grown.

A perfect example of this kind of opportunity can be found in our Director of Patient Experience Katherine Salkanovic, who often goes by Kat.

Did you know Kat originally wanted to be an accountant? In fact, in one of her first positions in the organization in Credentialing, she was shadowing Christine Tonn, the chief financial officer of Cure 4 The Kids Foundation, to whom she also became the Executive Assistant. Although Accounting was her focus at that time, the more she learned about the organization, the more she knew her future was about to change.

Cure 4 The Kids: Accounting is what originally brought you to Cure 4 The Kids Foundation.  What was it about our organization that made you think you might want to be involved in other areas?

I was drawn to Cure 4 The Kids Foundation from the start. Prior to joining C4K, I worked for over 8 years at another non-profit cancer center. When they were forced to close their doors, I knew I wanted to stay in the non-profit sector, and I knew it had to be a cancer clinic. 

You see, I lost my dad to cancer when I was 22 years old, and we had a very traumatic and negative experience. Since that day – I promised to myself that I would do everything in my power to change the way Patient Experience is delivered – I wanted to change the world. I saw C4K as the place where I could do it and make a difference. This is a place that was built around an experience, and excellence was their goal. I wanted to be a part of the place that set the bar so high. There was nowhere else I wanted to be! While I did have an Associate’s in Accounting from Santiago, Chile, I was unable to transfer my credits here. For me, Accounting was the easy path, but I learned very quickly that I belonged somewhere else.

Cure 4 The Kids: You had some heart-to-heart talks with CEO Annette Logan-Parker about your future when you understood that accounting may not be your ultimate career goal.  What advice did she give you and what actions did that lead to?

 I just can’t say enough about Annette. She’s such an amazing leader, but also, she’s such wonderful human being. She has the gift to see into people’s souls, and she astonish us all with her ability to see the best in people every time.

I swear, she knew what I wanted, before I knew it myself.

She knew about my dad and about my calling, so she asked me “what do you want to do” and I responded, “I want to change the world”. She understood, so she helped me with a path that could make me run the department where we get to make the all changes that affect Patient Experience – we get to change the world!

Annette encouraged me to pursue my bachelor’s degree (which I switched careers to healthcare management!), and become a Certified Patient Experience Professional. I was the second person in the state to hold this very prestigious certification.

Cure 4 The Kids: You were Cure 4 The Kids Foundation’s first-ever Patient Experience Manager, and now you are the director of that department. In many ways, this position seems like it was tailor-made for you.  What it is about your job you find most satisfying?

 

It does feel like this role was tailor-made for me.

Having had a very negative experience when my dad got diagnosed with cancer and later when he lost his battle to this horrible disease gave me a front row seat to “what not to do”. I don’t want any family or patient to go through what I went through.

What I enjoy the most about my job is that I get to spend my days with the most amazing kids in the world. Getting to create policies and procedures that makes their visit a positive experience its just a plus.

Knowing that we are educating families on what to expect from a healthcare provider and to not accept any less is truly rewarding. Families deserve to receive the best care possible, with compassion, empathy, and respect – and in a language they can understand.

It is my job to build that trust, and it’s a job that I treasure with everything within me.

Cure 4 The Kids: You recently earned your Master’s in Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Healthcare.  It’s tough to work full-time, manage a family at home, and pursue a degree.  It’s also a great accomplishment! Do you have advice to others who may be thinking about obtaining additional education while balancing a lot of responsibilities?

 It was tough, I am not going to lie. And there were times where I wanted to give up, specially after failing one of my classes. I remember walking into Annette’s office and telling her that I was deeply disappointed in myself because I had failed my final statistics exam. She gave me a warm smile and said “that’s great Kat! Failing builds character, and in the long run, this will make you a better leader! Did you know that the most successful bankers are hired because they have failures documented on their careers? Get up, dust yourself off, and do it again!”

So, my advice is: Don’t stop. It’s ok to fail, but its not ok give up. It will be hard, and it be challenging – but truly, all the best things in life are too.

Cure 4 The Kids Note: Katherine was chosen to be a featured speaker at the upcoming Next Generation Patient Experience Annual Conference. This virtual gathering of America’s top minds is aimed at sharing ideas, networking, and learning about the latest technology that are improving patient experience in the medical field.

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