We are honoring women leaders in healthcare as part of Women’s History Month. Today, we’re sharing a conversation with Carolyn Fetha, vice president, Physician Services at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.
Carolyn was born and grew up right here in Maine — she graduated from Hermon High School, then continued her education at Eastern Maine Community College and Husson University. She lives in Hermon with her husband and daughter.
Carolyn has held many roles during her career, beginning as a secretary with Northeast Surgery (now Northern Light Surgical Specialists) in 1992. Since then, she has been a practice manager, practice director, and is now a vice president of Physician Services. She is known for her positive attitude and wonderful interpersonal and organizational skills. She is a respected leader who consistently advocates for our clinicians and staff. Here are her thoughts on women in leadership:
Who inspired you to be a leader?
Believe it or not, it was my softball coach. I had a coach in my younger years that became my coach in my late teen and adult years. She was patient, kind, listened, gave clear instructions, was fair, honest, and dependable. She taught me that a team can be competitive while having fun and how important each member of the team is. She taught me tolerance, understanding, and kindness.
What are the benefits to having women in leadership?
I think having a diverse leadership team allows the team to be stronger. You do not want a team that all thinks or believes the same way. We need to challenge each other to drive to our greatest success. This is how we learn and adapt.
What has been the most significant barrier in your career?
That would be me. I am not one to advocate for myself as well as I will advocate for others.
How have you built confidence or resiliency over the course of your career?
I have always tried to stay consistent. One of the most important things for me as a person is that people know that I am trustworthy, dependable, and hard working. I believe I am able to show my caring nature, even when I have to say “no” or when I disagree with something.
I have been able to build confidence and resiliency throughout my career primarily because of where I started. I worked with physicians who believed in my ability to be a leader for their practice. When you have someone who has confidence in you, the last thing you want to do is let them down. Over the years I have worked with so many people who believe in me and my ability that it has allowed me to continue to grow.
What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?
I stay grounded with my family and friends. I have a daughter who is the light of my life. I have always wanted to teach her to have a good heart yet be able to stand up for herself. I have watched her become a young adult over the years, which brings me great joy. I have elderly parents who rely on me for support. This brings one back to the roots of family. While there are many days that are difficult, I would not change a thing.
I have such good people whom I call friends. Time with them always grounds me to what is important as we laugh and support each other.
What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Believe in yourself. Work hard and always with honesty and true intentions. You will get where you are supposed to go.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female healthcare leaders?
Healthcare is an ever-changing industry that provides you with an opportunity to work with people who do amazing things for patients every day. You can be part of this. In leadership, we have the opportunity to support and grow medical services; we have the opportunity to recruit physicians that offer state of the art medical care; we have the opportunity to guide and mentor people. It is a very fulfilling career.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Learning about history allows us to understand the struggles of the past and how much has been done to pave the way for what we are able to do today. I personally continue to look ahead; to see how we push forward. As for Women’s History Month in particular, I am always interested to read about people’s past; their upbringing, all of the steps they took to be where they are today — including the challenges and successes.