Meet Ali — mother, wife, VP, and humble pottery thrower!
We are honoring women leaders in healthcare as part of Women’s History Month. Today, we’re sharing a conversation with Ali Worster, Esq., vice president of Human Resources and Patient Experience for Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Before we get into the conversation let’s share some information about Ali. Ali grew up in Lincoln and has been with Northern Light Health since 2016. In her free time, you can find her behind a canvas painting, at the beach reading or playing in the waves … and if she really needs to relax, sitting at a pottery wheel throwing a nice bowl!
Ali is a respected leader within Northern Light Health, managing many projects that improve patient care and safety, and staff satisfaction. Read more about her thoughts on women in leadership.
Who inspired you to be a leader?
My late grandfather. He was a genuine servant leader and empowered those around him – and always did it with a sense of humor. I watched him build others up and wanted to emulate how he did that and how he made people feel.
What are the benefits to having women in leadership?
Like any other form of diversity, people from different walks of life think about things differently. We all see the problems and opportunities differently.
What has been the most significant barrier in your career?
For me, as a working mom, it can be hard to balance the expectations on all fronts. We have had to make tough choices as a family to support the path that I have been able to walk. There is a significant level of guilt on both sides – and it can be a real struggle to navigate it when you love what you do, and you love your family. Leadership isn’t a defined timeframe and is difficult to “turn off”.
How have you built confidence or resiliency over the course of your career?
It is a constant battle. There are many times that I sit there and kick myself for something I’ve done or said. There are times when I feel discouraged or frustrated and stare at the ceiling at 2am. At the end of the day, I bring myself back to what is important to me and what are the ways I can take just one next step to get closer, even if it doesn’t get me all the way there. In terms of confidence to do what needs to be done, it doesn’t really matter whether I feel like I can do it for sure or whether it is going to be tough, I can commit to using whatever skills I do have to make the impact that I can make for things that are important.
What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?
There is nothing quite like a 10-year old’s opinion of you to bring you back to earth, and mine seem to be very willing to ground me on a regular basis… In all seriousness, I have found that it is important to communicate my goals for staying centered and taking care of myself to those around me. It helps to hold me accountable to those goals. I specifically plan to do things that fill my bucket back up, like swim and read, and I plan for alone time, which is important to me to recharge.
What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Read a lot, learn from everyone around you regardless of what role they play, and believe in yourself. Making many small differences adds up to making a big difference.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female healthcare leaders?
Your voice is important, and you can do it. Ask for what you need to understand anything you want to understand. Don’t ever feel small or incapable just because you have a different approach – there is no secret perfect solution. Build up those around you always.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
It is a good period of reflection on where we have been before and where we are going. Learn from the challenges that have happened and remember it is on us to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.