Beyond the expected cast of doctors and nurses, health care centers are populated with people dedicated to making a difference. From administrative workers and technical-support staff to specialists and subspecialists and more, the common thread between the people who choose to work in health care is the desire to help others.

“You will hear nurses say, ‘If this were my mother …’ while talking about patients because we care about them like we do our own families,” said Tiffany Shanks, manager of surgical services and a surgical services nurse at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center. It’s a sentiment that is repeated time and again from health care workers — surgeons to custodial staff — regardless of their role: They want to improve the lives of others. Here are just a few of the specialists who contribute to the foundation of a health care system.

Surgical services nurse

Surgical services nurses care for patients before, during and after operations. The nurses are responsible for surgery preparation, assistance during the surgery and explaining at-home care.

“As a surgical services nurse, our most important responsibility is being the eyes and the ears for our patients while they are under anesthesia, to ensure that they’re safe and being cared for,” Shanks said.

Surgical services nursing is a multidiscipline job. “All surgical nurses, in our own small way, are part pharmacist, part engineer, part information technology and support specialists, part biomedical equipment technicians, part housekeepers, part anesthesia technicians and so much more,” Shanks said. “We could not do our jobs without the support of a hospital full of the above mentioned disciplines, but we learn from them to make our days run smoother.”

Other responsibilities include:

  • Ensure paperwork and consent forms are signed
  • Ensure patients’ questions and concerns are addressed
  • Teach patients and their families about procedures, recovery processes and at-home care
  • Review patients’ test results to ensure they’re within a healthy range; alert surgeon if an issue arises
  • Perform quality checks on all equipment used during a procedure

Respiratory therapist

Respiratory therapists specialize in respiratory, pulmonary and cardiac health. They often are employed in operating rooms or intensive care units but also are used for ongoing patient care in physical rehabilitation clinics and cardiology centers.

Due to the vast base of knowledge and the critical importance of respiratory therapists, these specialists typically are in high demand.

“Coming from a family of doctors and nurses, it was inevitable that I ended up in the health care field,” said Rose Hughes-Valmonte, Respiratory Care Manager at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center. “But I am really glad that I chose a career in respiratory care.”

Other responsibilities include:

  • First responders for cardiac or pulmonary arrest
  • Teach patients about pulmonary disease, including pneumonia, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Administer oxygen and manage airways
  • Help with smoking cessation
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Place patients on a ventilator or life support
  • Give nebulizer treatments


Hospital admissions require organization, patience and communication between departments. “I manage a team of 21, and we are primarily responsible for setting the stage and the tone for each patient who enters our doors,” said Latisha McGee, Director of Admissions at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center. People working in hospital admissions must balance administrative responsibilities with customer service and care, and they also have a background in medical terminology and procedures.

“Admissions is a very diverse department, and my team and I have to be heavily versed in all areas of patient care to support our organization. Sometimes, we are misrepresented as being only data clerks, but that’s just the surface. We really dig in,” McGee said.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Act as a liaison to the billing department and ensure accurate data input
  • Ensure patients receive appropriate services from all departments, insurance verification and authorization, and benefits eligibility
  • Support the health information team; ensure they have physician orders to properly code accounts for billing
  • Document patient demographics and insurance information for claims submissions to insurance companies

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