Dwayne Richardson first realized he wanted to make a career in health care when he was a young patient receiving care — he had a formative experience while at Shriners Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
“I had a very interesting radiology technologist who I thought was the most impressive and smartest person in the world,” he said. “She taught me every single bone and I was so impressed with her I told her I wanted to be just like her.”
And Richardson did grow up to be like her: His first health care job was as a radiology technologist at that very hospital, though it wasn’t his last. Richardson became a registered nurse and worked his way up the ranks of management of multiple health care systems in several states.
On Monday, March 12, Richardson was announced as starting in his newest position: senior vice president of operations at Carroll Hospital in Westminster.
“Today, I am here and this is day one for me,” he said in an interview Wednesday morning.
Richardson’s role will be overseeing all of the hospital’s service lines — that is, each of the departments such as cardiology, oncology and emergency, according to hospital President Leslie Simmons.
“But I also see Dwayne’s role growing to be the person who oversees every aspect of daily operations,” she said. “We are absolutely thrilled to have his experience coming to be fresh eyes on our organization.”
Part of what made it clear to Simmons that Richardson was right for the role was his wide experience.
“I recognized in Dwayne some of the things I saw in myself that helped me in my journey and that was doing multiple different roles in a hospital,” Simmons said. “That really helps you with perspective.”
They also share a common pathway to health care management, by way of a nursing degree.
“That wasn’t a coincidence really,” Simmons said with a laugh.
Richardson recalled going to the CEO of Shriners Hospital for Children after having spent some time as a radiology technologist and asking for career advice and how he could grow within the hospital.
“At that time I was going to go to medical school. And he said, ‘Well, why not be a nurse?’ ” Richardson said. “And I said, ‘Why would I be a nurse?’ ”
Richardson said he loves to learn, especially from strong leaders, and in that meeting he learned just why he would want to be a nurse.
“While talking with him, I looked at the wall and noticed that the CEO was a nurse,” he said. “He talked me into that career path.”
Richardson spent seven years in a night school program to get his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, and then working at a cardiology catheterization lab. He moved into leadership roles, becoming the charge nurse and eventually the nurse manager.
“We were doing about 5,000 [catheterizations] a year,” he said. “I ran the largest cardiac failure program in the city of Philadelphia.”
After a stint as the director of cardiopulmonary services at University Medical Center at Princeton in New Jersey, Richardson moved to Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, where he was the director of radiology.
Always looking to grow and take on new challenges, he then moved his family to California to become the chief operating officer at Placentia-Linda Hospital in Orange County, one of the 80 hospitals in the Tenet Healthcare network.
“What I noticed was a lot of hospitals, they weren’t necessarily working collaboratively. So, again, I go to the CEO of the region and I tell him that I would like to create a COO council,” Richardson said. “Initially I started off with 13 hospitals, which means I now had 12 other COOs, my colleagues, where we were starting to work on projects. That’s how you start getting things done.”
After more than four years, Richardson’s council had expanded to include 22 hospital COOs across two states.
And then the opportunity to join Carroll Hospital arrived.
“I was very interested because I did my homework about the organization. It wasn’t just Carroll Hospital — it was also LifeBridge [Health] — and those two synergistic partners really made it appealing for me,” he said.
But more than that, Richardson said, he immediately took to the culture and the people of Carroll Hospital, especially the leadership.
“I like to learn from very strong leaders. That’s not something you happen to have all the time. You can have people in leadership positions, but you don’t necessarily find strong, transformational leaders and that’s something I look for,” he said. “So that’s what really attracted me — Leslie Simmons is the individual who really made me want to be part of this hospital.”
And carrying on the Carroll Hospital culture is very important to Simmons, who said she was drawn to Richardson’s depth of interest in her people and skills and building strong, professional relationships.
“He is interested in understanding people’s stories and how to engage them and how to motivate them, and to me that is a critical element for every leader today,” she said.
“We can teach the technical skills, we can teach what is unique about Maryland, but we can’t teach those amazing interpersonal skills that matter so much today. Dwayne has all those things.”