We are privileged to work with many associates who have firsthand clinical experience. These talented individuals work together with our technology teams and clients to make sure we’re delivering solutions that work in the real world – not just the testing lab. In this series, we spotlight individuals who have worked in clinical settings and now use those skills and their wealth of knowledge to meet and exceed the needs and goals of our clients.

In this series, we spotlight individuals who have worked in clinical settings and now contribute their skills and experience to Netsmart.

Rhonda Perrin Oakes – Regulatory Analyst

Questions:

  1. Tell us about yourself.

I am a person that loves the wonders of life as they unfold before me. As a hospice and palliative nurse, the journeys with my patients and their families dramatically shaped who I am and how I choose to live my life, serving others. I see every day as a gift that has been given to us. I use that gift to focus on what matters and be intentional in my interactions with others. My hope is to leave people and our communities in a better place than we started. I have an amazing best friend who loves the outdoors as much as I do, it helps that he is also my husband! We enjoy meeting up with our two adult sons and celebrating everyday life. We don’t wait for holidays, we know if a moment works for everyone, we connect. Too many times I heard regret from my patients, passing up chances to be together, and when you least expect it, the person is gone. The phrase “EveryDayMatters” resonates with me.

  1. Give us some highlights of your career in healthcare.

Some of the most memorable moments were results of what I love doing most, volunteering and helping people. During 2008 I worked with an amazing group of researchers across seven countries and we contributed to a project that became known as an International Classification of Nursing Practice (ICNP®) Palliative Care for Dignified Dying. The results were published through the ICNP® catalog. We were selected as the international keynotes and presented our work at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 30th annual congress.

At the 2010 Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing Association (HPNA) and American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) assembly, I received a special recognition award for my contributions during 2009 as a volunteer and chair on the HPNA Public Policy Committee. In 2010 I had the honor of attending and representing HPNA as part of the nurses in Washington internship program. That same year, I listened in to congressional hearings and testimonial sessions for the Affordable Care Act. I love history and my favorite piece of literature is to read and dissect the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court opinions. I have come to realize that my role as a registered nurse and my passion for sociology makes political advocacy for better health a natural fit for me. Thus, going from a hospice and palliative care clinician to regulatory analyst begins to make sense when people ask me, “why?” Almost 10 years later, I continue to advocate and volunteer as well as mentor our next generation of clinicians and advocates.

  1. Why did you make the change from clinical work to working at Netsmart?

I realized my purpose. My greatest joy has been bedside nursing and health coaching, it comes as easy as breathing for me. I realized I had a responsibility to patients and my peers to extend beyond my comfort zone. It is so easy to say software does not work or the healthcare system is broken. I saw Netsmart as an opportunity to contribute to the greater good. I’m not going to complain about a broken process, I’m going to dig in with diverse teams that come to the table with every option possible and let’s figure this out. We can clarify and simplify the complex. Above all else, do not forget the patient, their family and caregivers are the center of our focus and the health team that supports them.

  1. What makes you passionate about serving the clients/organizations who use Netsmart’s services?

The joy I experience when a nurse or a biller calls me and tells me how much of their life we gave back; an informatics manager or education manager calls and tells me the clinicians are successful and they love the new functionality; an agency administrator calls me and tells me the solution helped them breeze through their survey or audit – these things make me wake up early ready to take on the next challenge. It’s about quality of life. As we design and deliver solutions, there are intangible returns on investment. Hearing my peer’s success stories and how they can get their work done and go home to their families, that recharges me and flames my passion for what we do.

  1. What does your perfect weekend look like?

A long hike in the Smoky Mountains (they are 45 minutes from my home) or kayaking and connecting with family and friends.