By definition, serendipity means “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” When Erika C. decided to become a nurse, she had no way of knowing she’d end up with a career in organ donation and transplantation. But her journey to working for Mid-America Transplant (MT) was a fortunate stroke of serendipity.
“When I first became a nurse in Indianapolis, I worked in a cardio transplant unit caring for recipients pre- and post-transplant,” she says. “It was my first exposure to the arena. I enjoyed seeing the full process of these patients and their families getting a new lease on life.”
She did some research and realized she wanted to work for an organ procurement organization (OPO). After moving to St. Louis, she looked up Mid-America Transplant but they didn’t have any job openings. She accepted a job within Mercy but her hope of working for MT stayed with her. Shortly after this, Erika’s dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which caused her to reevaluate her career path. “I decided it was too much to be working bedside involving patient care at the same time as taking care of my dad.”
As luck would have it, an organ procurement coordinator role opened up at Mid-America Transplant.
She applied for the job and as her dad’s care escalated, she got a call back for a second interview. Erika was offered the job within a day of her dad passing. “It was serendipity,” she says. “The timing of it all was so special to me. It was bittersweet that one chapter closed but another meaningful one was beginning.”
From starting as a coordinator overseeing organ donation, Erika has worked her way up. She was promoted in May and is now the Manager of Hospital Services. In her new role Erika supports multiple teams doing everything from hospital referrals and communicating with the hospital staff to talking with family members about organ donation and being the gatekeepers of the data as it relates to compliance and what gets reported.
What doesn’t change for Erika is her excitement for the field of organ donation. She maintains the same passion as when she first got introduced to the mission. “What’s amazing to me is how mission driven everyone is,” she says. “At the forefront of everyone’s mind is taking care of our donor families from the very beginning all the way through as long as they want to communicate with us. That never gets lost in the work that we do.”
The organization’s focus on the mission and continuous improvement has not only earned a second Baldrige Award honor, but also energizes folks like Erika who love innovation. “So much thought goes on behind the scenes and in every single decision that gets made,” she says. “It never fails to impress me how much we innovate. I love how we are constantly looking for ways to be better and to push ourselves. There is always more to learn, and I appreciate that challenge and that demand.”
Erika and her team also get to do things they wouldn’t normally get to do in a hospital setting. “We get to do advanced services and are trained to do procedures that you don’t do in the hospital. We wear different hats and do all of the jobs. It’s rewarding to be able to have that breadth of knowledge and be able to do all of those things that nurses don’t typically get the opportunity to do,” she added.
And through every serendipitous moment, Erika says she wouldn’t want to work for any other organization.
“Daily, I am affected by the people I meet, the stories we hear and the work we get to do.”
If you’re like Erika you desire to work in a career where everyone is passionate about what they do, consider joining an organization committed to a lifesaving mission and find a rewarding career with Mid-America Transplant. View our current job openings.