Four months in, it’s proved to be a mentorship match made in heaven for Amanda Turrubiartez, transplant quality and compliance manager at DHR Health Transplant Institute, who is being mentored by Lindsay G. Smith, transplant quality director at Vanderbilt Transplant Center. They were matched through The Alliance Mentorship Program and their story celebrates National Mentor Month.
Turrubiartez began her role in quality and compliance at DHR, the only CMS and UNOS certified kidney transplant center in the Rio Grande Valley, in April 2022. She says she was motivated to become a mentee because she wanted to gain foundational knowledge about quality compliance and says she is benefitting from the knowledge and experience of Smith, who has been in the field of quality and compliance for eight years after seven years of being a nurse. “Lindsay’s been so awesome,” says Turrubiartez. “She’s really allowed me to build up my confidence and not double guess my judgment. She’s somebody that I can reach out to when I have a question just to make sure that I’m going down the right path.”
Smith, who also serves on The Alliance’s National Transplant Leadership Council, has participated in the Mentorship Program for several years. “One of my professional goals a few years ago was to get more involved in the transplant community, and The Alliance mentorship program provides a great opportunity to really get in there and do work for other transplant professionals,” says Smith.
Their relationship began with a launch meeting. “The Alliance does a really good job about making sure that you do an introductory phone call to discuss goals and how to best to communicate and structure your relationship,” says Smith. The pair has scheduled Zoom meetings twice a month and before each one Turrubiartez communicates with Smith about topics and ideas that she’d like to discuss.
So far, tools to prepare for UNOS and CMS audits have been at the forefront.
Turrubiartez, who previously worked as a practice manager and is pursuing an MBA from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, is working to complete a UNOS survey that’s due in January and has found Smith to be a valuable resource for that work. “We opened in 2017 and we’re only conducting kidney transplants so we’re much smaller than Lindsay’s center at Vanderbilt,” says Turrubiartez. “In January 2022, we’ll have our first UNOS visit since we’ve been credentialed and contracted with them and we’re expecting an audit of about 20 patients. They’ll look at everything to make sure that we’re abiding by our policies and by their policies and that our outcomes were good. It’s a little nerve-wracking in the sense of this is my first time being in this role and going through a survey. I’m just trying to mentally prepare myself about what to expect.”
Smith has shared tools to help with the survey such as Excel spreadsheets and provided guidance on what to expect. “It’s important to help people have realistic expectations when dealing with regulatory compliance issues,” says Smith. “I’ve been working with Amanda to let her know that she’s not going to be perfect in this and you just have to give yourself some grace. But you’re going to get through this and then you can really build from this and make it your own kind of experience.”
“Transplant quality is hard and can be a strange kind of new world,” continues Smith. “We have people who come into the field and it’s a brand-new knowledge set and experiences. I wanted to be able to guide people and show them where resources are and provide professional advice about how to get off the ground. A lot of the mentors I know are really passionate—they love their job and really care about transplant. That can really have an impact on mentees and get them excited about being in transplant and help them stay in the community.”
“I signed up for The Alliance mentorship because I wanted somebody that I could rely on for advice and somebody that could point me in the right direction to build my confidence and own this role because I’m developing my job as I move along,” says Turrubiartez. “I really want people to be encouraged to sign up for the mentorship program because having the relationship and being able to bounce ideas off somebody has really given me confidence in owning my role.”
Smith says her relationship with each mentee has been different and that each finds its natural endpoint. “Sometimes I’ve moved conversations to monthly or quarterly, but I still like to be there for people and have relationships with them if they need anything.”
The Alliance is pleased to have matched more than 450 mentors and mentees in the last four years in the donation and transplantation community. More information about The Alliance Mentorship Program can be found by clicking here.