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Exceptional women leaders are plentiful amongst Cook Children's more than 8,000 employees. Join us as we look at a handful of them because they truly exemplify what is so great about saying #WeAreCookChildrens.
Wherever she was needed, that's where she landed, so says Assistant Vice President of Nursing Debbie Boudreaux of her 34-year career at Cook Children's.
"We're here to care for ev?eryone, and we're here to work with everyone. It doesn't matter who you are or what you look like," she said. "I've always felt very welcomed. And I've always had someone pushing me to grow."
Through her multiple roles at Cook Children's, Debbie said she benefited from Cook Children's leaders and mentors who encouraged growth and maintained a constant open-door policy. She has applied that empowering philosophy to each leadership position she earned.
"I don't always have the right answers, but if I don't know, I'll go find somebody who does. That's where the open-door thing happens," she said, adding that it's a testament to the patient-first philosophy at Cook Children's and the longevity of many of its employees. "You put your patients first, but your staff has to feel like they're valued in order to get the care that's needed to the patients. I think our staff feels valued."
Debbie began her Cook Children's career as a nurse in 1987; then took another nursing spot with Teddy Bear Transport two years later. In 2004, she became nurse manager of the transport team, and in 2013, she took the reins as Transport director. Debbie briefly served as interim director of Emergency Services before being named AVP of Nursing in October 2017. She also maintained her role as Teddy Bear Transport director until a year ago.
Now, Debbie oversees the NICU, Respiratory Therapy, Emergency Department, Teddy Bear Transport and Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO).
"I've circled back to my home base which was the NICU," she said, adding that her career path has been filled with "constantly learning something new."
Debbie said she never felt that being a woman held her back from earning leadership roles, especially in the health care area of nursing where glass ceilings may not exist as much as they might in other areas.
"I think that's who we are as nurses. We're caregivers. And I think the leaders above me had that same mentality," she said. "I think as you grow in leadership roles, you continue to have that same perspective."
Each step Debbie has taken in her career has been a chance for her to broaden her reach and help more people, she said. Something she doesn't take lightly since she realizes the trust that families give to staff to care for their children during some of their darkest times.
"We're lucky that we have the opportunity to provide that care and comfort to those families. In my role now, I get to make sure the staff have everything they need to be able to do that," Debbie said.
"Maybe that's why I landed here. I don't know," she added. "I just think we have been given such a privilege to take care of people's children, sometimes on their very worst day. How amazing is it to be able to do that?"
Though she's no longer providing nursing care to individual patients, she said her role as AVP gives her the chance to "take care of lots of patients" by being the voice for the bedside nurses, respiratory therapists, transport nurses and others who offer face-to- face care within the hospital system. Her goal is to make sure staff members have all the support they need to provide the best care possible.
"If they need something or something's not happening the way they think it should, I can help them. I can be their voice," Boudreaux said. "I can't imagine working anywhere else. I think we're supported as nurses and we're supported as leaders to make sure we do what is best for the patient. That speaks volumes."