If you have never met someone who loves every aspect about her job, meet Tawannia Wilson. The registered nurse is the clinic administrator for Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers, where she oversees the day-to-day operations, including quality, compliance, planning and staffing. Her leadership and management style is hands-on patient care.
“I walk the floors, I go to the departments, I talk to the patients and see how I can navigate them through the system and see what they need,” Wilson said.
While mentors and family typically attract many into the nursing profession, Wilson, a St. Louis native and Northwest High School graduate, said she didn’t have any of that. She just knew as a child that she wanted to be a nurse.
“I just wanted to help somebody,” she said.
Wilson earned a bachelor of science in Nursing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She became a registered nurse in 1984. Wilson said there is not an area of nursing where she has not worked – and she has loved it all.
“I thought I wanted to be a midwife,” she said. “I really liked OB (obstetrics), but once I started, when I became a student nurse, I liked ‘med-surg’ (medical surgical) and I stayed in ‘med-surg’ for a long time and OB was the last thing I’ve done before I got into community health.”
From medical surgical, to pediatrics, then to community health in obstetrics, and at People’s she worked as a women’s health nurse manager before clinic administrator. “I know this is the right career for me because I love what I do,” she said.
She was gently steered into nurse management at the old Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis when Wilson agreed to step up and fill a temporary vacancy. It seems that others might have had something more permanent in mind.
“I never really thought I would be in management. I really honestly wanted to be a bedside nurse,” she said. “I became a charge nurse and then, every time, someone else saw something in me.”
She said the best part of nursing is helping people and putting a smile on their faces.
“They might come in front of you and sometimes, they may not present themselves in the best way, but when they leave out of your presence, you have them smiling, or at least they feel that you provided the best care you could for them,” she said, “making them feel better.”
At People’s, Wilson continues that hands-on approach to leading patient care. If a patient has a problem, she said they locate her to help solve it. Actually, she does not look at those situations as problems at all.
“Nothing that a patient brings to me is a problem,” Wilson said. “I feel that it’s an issue and... if we have a service failure, how can we recover this patient. That’s the angle I look at it from.”
“If it’s something with their medication, something when they don’t have the money, I listen, see what they need or what they need from me,” she said. “It’s not a problem. It is something that we need to resolve.”
There is another reason Wilson loves her job: Because for her, it is not a job at all – it is a calling.
“This is more than a job; it is a career,” Wilson said. “It is a gift that has been granted by God, and that is why I do it with so much compassion and so much love for what I do.”