What do you do every day?
I help my company with medical communications, both internally and externally. I also get to help create new processes and share ideas on how to help improve healthcare outcomes through personal health information. I blog for our company’s web site www.gethealthystayhealthy.com, help make strategies to help patients everywhere, work with bioethicists to make sure we are doing the right thing by patients, and interact with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. in many different capacities.
Why do you love it?
I work on different things every day and interact with people from all over the company, and from all across the healthcare industry! I especially enjoy my interactions with the many patients that are out there and advocating to improve healthcare! When I first came to the pharmaceutical industry I worked on creating documentation solutions for our clinical trials worldwide. This has been a wonderful learning experience and really helped me see the value of clinical research for patients and their healthcare.
I stumbled upon the health information management (HIM) profession by chance. While working at a nursing home I was sent to a class to learn about HIM. I took to it like a fish to water and decided to go back to school. I haven’t turned back and use what I learned from HIM every day.
What were your moments of fear and challenges in your career?
Throughout my life, I have always tried to listen to my inner voice and make decisions by what felt right. Doing the right thing has always been my value and mantra. There have been instances in my career where I could see when someone was not doing the right thing. Those are my challenges and moments of fear: finding a way to communicate this and set things right.
What are some of the latest innovations in science that you are most excited about?
There are so many! I’ve become a Star Trek and science fiction geek thanks to my husband and son. I love watching some of the cool technology on those shows becoming a reality, like tricorders. I also like simple innovations to assist in healthcare like the Odom device. I am also so very intrigued by the new way we communicate and the move to “connected healthcare” or “mobile health”. I think that the more and more we use smart phones, the more healthcare improvements we can find.
Where did you grow up?
A Hudson Valley river town called Nyack in New York State.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Mrs. Spagnolo, my kindergarten teacher. I started public school not speaking a word of English, as I come from a first generation Russian family. She helped me feel comfortable and at home. Before I knew it, I was fluent. She was also an opera singer and would perform at fundraisers for my father’s church. I loved her singing and really appreciated how she was able to make sure that every student in her class felt comfortable to learn and socialize.
Describe an experience where you adapted your approach to resolve a sticky situation.
This is a tough one. I have resolved several “sticky” situations, but not by adapting my approach. I do things behind the scenes to smooth things over. As the president of a not-for-profit in my home town, there were, at times, misunderstandings. I tried to figure out where the misunderstandings were and try to help others understand what we needed to do. I’ve also helped people behind the scenes at work. It doesn’t matter to me to get kudos. My motivation is doing the right thing.
What is your unique talent?
To me, everything is a canvas. I am an artist. My quirky talent is drawing on whatever makes sense e.g. napkins, chopstick wrappers, paper table cloths, business cards, etc., take a photograph, then leave the drawing there. I have a facebook page where I post all my drawings: https://www.facebook.com/artbyverarulon
I am also an official artist of the Regina Holliday’s Walking Gallery.
Tell us about your personal style
Though not the fashionable type, I’d say my fashion tip would be to wear what you feel comfortable in and what reflects your personality (while staying professional, of course).
Is there a current book or book you love?
I am currently reading Make Your Mark by Freda Lewis-Hall. A very inspirational book about leadership and succeeding in life. I read leadership books all the time.
For pleasure, I enjoy a variety of books, such as Chocolat, the Game of Thrones series, and an older book I read in college called At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen.
What is your favorite website or fun activity?
I’ve already mentioned science fiction, but I do also enjoy the KevinMD and Regina Holliday’s Walking Gallery blogs. I also follow Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead series.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by people who do the right thing and try to change the world for the better in creative ways. I am inspired by my husband and son, who help me see the value of why I do what I do. And, I am inspired by the terrific people that work in healthcare and the sciences.
What’s next for you?
I’d like to take what I do to the next level. To me, all my quirky talents and what I do for a living are interconnected. I want to find a way to better reach people to take action on their health, improve the healthcare system, through my knowledge of health information management and my art. I am not sure how this will take shape yet. So long as I do the right thing, I’m sure the rest will become clear.