Dorothy “Dot” Nicholson, BS, CST, CRCST, CIS, found a work family at Porter Regional Hospital before she even officially graduated in her field.
“From the moment I walked into Porter Regional Hospital as a student studying Surgical Technology, I knew it was the place I wanted to work. I was embraced as part of the OR family” Nicholson said.
She is now the Sterile Processing Manager and HLD Coordinator for Porter Health Care System and has recently been recognized as Clinical Manager of the Year by a vote from her peers.
Soon after completing her education, Nicholson was offered a position as a Certified Surgical technologist at Porter Regional Hospital. After a few years, she was offered a position at Ivy Tech Community College as the Clinical Coordinator of Surgical Technology.
“I always felt that teaching was my strong suit. I love to teach. I love acquiring knowledge myself and then getting to share that knowledge with others,” she said.
Nicholson taught at Ivy Tech for about seven years. During that time, she realized there wasn’t a strong education base for associates before they stepped into a sterile processing career. So, she developed the sterile processing course at Ivy Tech and then led and taught this program for two semesters before getting an offer to manage the sterile processing department at Porter Health Care System.
“When I left the hospital to teach at Ivy Tech, I missed this close-knit family and the sense of being home,” Nicholson said.
When she returned, she realized that the connection she had held so close to her heart over the years had never left. Nicholson picked right back up where she left off with her operating room (OR) family.
Nicholson has managed the sterile processing department since 2015. She oversees the sterilization practices for the entire hospital and offsite surgery centers ensuring that all procedures and policies are followed and that the OR has the instrumentation to do their surgical cases.
Nicholson’s favorite part of her job at Porter Regional Hospital is interacting with her team and the satisfaction that comes with knowing we are giving our patients the best possible care.
“Porter really takes care of their associates. I’ve always had the feeling that they truly care for me as a person.”
Nicholson also loves to find ways to overcome challenges that pop up throughout her day-to-day duties.
“I love being able to problem-solve with my staff,” Nicholson said. “My staff and I work very well together”
Nicholson was awarded Clinical Manager of the Year because she is known to give 110 percent to make sure the departments she serves have the tools they need to take care of their patients.
A huge part of the recognition was due to the fact that Nicholson is dedicated to the hospital’s high-quality standards as it relates to the field of sterilization and processing.
“Being fully prepared and educated in the sterile processing field is so important because there are so many aspects on how to sterilize things and how to properly clean items for surgery,” she said. “Every step is critical in the quality and safety of our patients and staff.”
Her dedication to the overall goal of practicing safe healthcare and providing top-notch education to associates shines through in one of her hobbies outside of the hospital. Nicholson recently was named president of the newly founded Northern Indiana International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM) chapter. The mission of IAHCSMM is to promote patient safety worldwide by raising the level of expertise and recognition for those in the central service profession.
“Since the Northern Indiana chapter just recently was founded, I spend a lot of my spare time working to get it up and running, recruiting new members, and getting the word out there that we are a new group and are here to help support sterile processing associates not only at Porter but all hospitals in the area,” Nicholson said.
In her free time, Nicholson and her family enjoy muskie fishing at their cabin in Northern Wisconsin. She also enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on.
Looking forward, Nicholson hopes to continue to watch the sterile processing field grow.
“There are many things we are doing at Porter Regional Hospital to ensure we continue to provide great patient care. I am so honored to have this opportunity to talk about my passion for Sterile processing. The amount of dedication and hard work that my staff gives me every day is truly a blessing,” she said.