Health Care Leadership Award: Natalie Sellers | Vice President, Communications, Community & Corporate Services Parrish Medical Center
Though some might view it as a disadvantage, for Natalie Sellers, being an “Army Brat,” which meant she lived all over the United States and Europe, was a decisive advantage. Sellers, who oversees Marketing Communications, Human Resources, Patient Experience, Corporate and Community Development and Process Improvement for Parrish Medical Center, recalls her humanities class in Germany traveling to Paris to visit the Louvre. “We were able to experience first-hand what was in our textbooks,” she recalled.
St. Augustine once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” For Sellers, her global experience shaped her life and gave her a unique set of skills. She attended three different high schools and observed, “Constant change was a way of life. I had to learn and adapt quickly. This has served me well throughout my career.”
In the ever-changing world of health care, these experiences have allowed her to rise to the top of one of the most celebrated hospitals in the country. Sellers settled in Florida with her family when her father retired and attended UCF, before earning a graduate degree at Florida Tech. She started her career at Parrish as a marketing coordinator in 2001, and though she has risen to one of the most strategic positions in the organization, she never saw herself as a “leader,” per se.
“My focus has always been on serving, to be the very best I could be and developing collaborative, respectful and caring relationships,” Sellers said. A critical strategy, in a field where effective teams produce the outcomes patients expect and depend on.
To Sellers the future of health care requires a specific type of innovation. Namely, one that focuses on educating and incentivizing people on the benefits of health and prevention (wellness), thus reducing health care costs for individuals and easing health care costs overall.
“If you watch what is happening in the health care sector, entrepreneurs are entering the space focused on technologies that are easy to implement and to sell to consumers,” Sellers said.
Though they are inventing health-related devices, she feels they aren’t addressing the difficult sectors of health care, such as treatment for chronic conditions and life-long health. As a result, much of the growth in health care isn’t contributing beneficially to “health.” Thus, costs continue to rise in the industry, without noticeable improvements in our nation’s overall quality or longevity of life.
Sellers quoted one of her key mentors George Mikitarian, “The true disruptors in health care are not in the health care industry at all but are those demanding more accountability and better value for their money.”
Though she did not initially perceive herself as a leader, she has certainly become an effective one. In fact, when asked about keys to her leadership success, she said, “It is like the old saying, ‘Have the heart of lion, skin of a rhino, and the soul of angel.’ In life, anything you want to excel at, whether it’s leadership, sports, parenthood, etc., it requires continuous focus and attention, achieved through mindfulness and self-care.
“Leadership takes courage, patience, focus and desire, among many other attributes,” she said. Which she believes, requires that you take care of yourself. “Therefore, I love to exercise, spend time with my family, eat healthy and focus on my inner-self, in order to maintain the energy that it takes to give back to others as a leader on a consistent basis,” she continued.
Concluding, with characteristic insight, she said, “Leaders don’t get to choose when and where they want to be a leader. You must be ready and prepared at all times to lead.”