Twenty years ago, Marsha Cunningham transitioned from a role at the George Washington University (GW) Hospital to one at The GW Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA). Through her career at within the GW medical enterprise, Cunningham has found that the key to successfully working with colleagues and also with patients is through kindness and patience.
Q: What is your role at the GW MFA?
Cunningham: I am a patient scheduler in the Department of Ophthalmology. I help with everything from scheduling appointments for patients, transmitting messages from patients to their providers, and working in ZocDoc and Follow My Health to help patients schedule appointments and answer any questions.
Q: Before joining the GW MFA you were at GW Hospital, what led you to make the switch?
Cunningham: I joined the MFA about 20 years ago. My past manager at the hospital came to this side of the street as the manager for the call center. She asked me to come over and assist her as a call center supervisor, helping with the day-to-day operations, working with the master scheduler, and staffing. I’ve been in my current role for about two years.
Q: What drives you to do what you do every day?
Cunningham: I chose health care because I want to help. What can I do to make a difference? Even if it’s a small difference, there’s something I can do. I’m a patient scheduler. Is that hard? Sometimes. But sometimes I’m able to put a smile on a patient’s face. You can even tell through a phone call if you’ve helped someone. By just coming in to work I can make a difference.
I also love the patients. I want to do what I can to help them. If I was a patient calling I would want someone to go above and beyond to help me. In my position, I’ve always wanted to help the patient. If it was my loved one, I would want someone to do everything they can.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Cunningham: Be patient. Patience doesn’t come easy. I am someone who likes things to get done right away and I had to learned that it’s a process.
Q: What makes you the most successful in your job?
Cunningham: I can talk to almost anybody; it doesn’t matter who it is. We get patients sometimes where there is a language barrier and I know it can be frustrating. Sometimes you have to go through things a few times, be patient, and take care. At the end of those conversations, they will say, “Thank you for your patience.”