News / Periop Café

40 Fast and Future Leaders of Surgical Services: Kathy Lim

January 7, 2020


40 Fast and Future Leaders of Surgical Services: Kathy Lim

I know its time to go home when… My follow up or to-do lists keeps growing. I have learned over the past 10 years of leadership that work will still be here and that not everything needs to get done yesterday. I also learned that resilience is critical to continue the good work and my “being present in the moment” both at home and work is the key to leadership longevity. It also is role modeling to the team and mentees that leadership is not burning the midnight oil at the detriment of one’s health and family.

Sometimes it’s not what you know, its… What you don’t know and willingness to be vulnerable to remain curious and learn from others, listen to others’ perspectives and their “whys”. It helps to decrease my own anxiety of unknown to pull myself back to allow myself to listen. It helps to keep myself in check of my assumptions.

One little thing I pay attention to is… People’s non-verbal language. I notice everything ( I am known as human leveler ?- physical lines like crooked signage and emotional). It’s a blessing and a curse. I have a strong intuition of people’s temperament which in turn helps me with my messaging, both the how and the timeliness-which stems my urgency and impatience. Many times I feel like I spent my time preventing potential bomb explosions of human emotions, with teams and surgeons and patients. I am continuing to fine-tune my innate intuitions through my daily rounding. I cannot help but round on teams, patients and physicians, i.e. people~

Best advice I ever received… Not to apologize for who I am. The very traits that drive results in my roles and developing engaging teams are the same traits that demand same level of accountability of my peers, my 1-up and organizations. Two sides of the same coin. Gotta take it all I say! ?

My mentors are… I have always struggled with finding mentors. That is my to do. I have a peer outside of Surgery who is my sounding board and helps me with perspective. I also learned that mentors are not perfect and I should not be looking for someone who holds the same set of beliefs or just like me. ? But definitely would have to be someone who is effective in their roles.

I am here for… Growing talent. As a leader, to be a part of someone’s journey to their greatness is an obligation and a true privilege. If I can help provide opportunities for people to function at their top talent and beyond, there is nothing more worth it. I don’t get it right every time however, this is the reason why I am a leader. I want people to go above and beyond what I can do and if some part of me has added value to their growth and their own discovery of greatness, it truly is a privilege. This makes all other awful parts of my work worth it all (haha). It is with a hope that they would also reciprocate the same opportunities, support, and accountability for someone else, simply being kind to another human being-helping people see and believe in their own worth, potential, and greatness.

The future of surgical services is… Bleak from current state as we knew the OR nurse shortage was going to be here in 15 years about 15 years ago and I feel there hasn’t been a higher level of engagement from organizations in developing surgical services leadership nationally or globally, not to mention creating the pipeline of surgical services workforce both nurses, techs, sterile processing tech through systematic partnership with school. I have started that work the last several years in a small way within my own network and organizations with the core of finding and developing talents for surgical services, which requires certain types of personalities. OR is not for everyone. It is complex. There is no one answer. However, engaging hospital executives with national organizations to address the need for innovation future pipeline of the workforce is critical because it has to be addressed.

The dumbest thing I ever did… Sacrifice my family-3 children’s younger days when I first started in leadership 10 years ago because of my “get everything done now” intensity. I was effective and “successful” but at the detriment of my health and health of my young family, working 12-14 hours and then some at home. They are teenagers now so it has its own challenges and yet I do know there is a period of time where my family suffered because of my inability to turn off. I have acknowledged and apologized since then but I know we are still working through the unintended consequences of my earlier ways of being a workaholic.

The smartest thing I ever did… Entering the dark side of “management”- i.e. leadership. Always giving my best and being true to self and others, the intention is to always walk the talk, not caring more than the those that should; Learning from mistakes. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have to have all the answers, both at home and at work. Learning to walk away.

If I hadn’t been a Director of Surgical Services, I would have become a… International Philanthropist/Founder to start a Hybrid Foundation of incorporating Scholarships & Study Abroad & Foster/adoption families for Orphans.

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