Black Stories: Edwina Mallory
Edwina Mallory currently serves as the AVP of Information Systems for Ochsner Lafayette General. With more than 30 years of experience in Healthcare IT and management, she has been a constant in the industry throughout numerous changes in the principles and practices that surround healthcare. Throughout her career at Ochsner Lafayette General, our system’s IT department has received multiple rewards throughout the years, including HIMSS Davies, HIMSS level 7 designation and Most Wired. We were also voted as one of the Best Places to Work in IT in the United States. We sat down with her (virtually) to learn more about her career, what brought her to healthcare and the challenges she’s faced throughout her long tenure.
What made you want to work in healthcare?
I had a mentor (woman of color) who worked in healthcare and I followed her career. Early during my high school years, I volunteered as a “Candy Striper” at LGMC (now Ochsner Lafayette General Medical Center) to gain experience in a healthcare setting. Initially I knew direct patient care was not in my scope, but in my junior year in college I worked as unit secretary mainly in the ICU which really piqued my interest. This experience actually provided value in my HIM and IT career with clinical workflows.
As a Person of Color (POC) who works in healthcare, have there been any hurdles/obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today? If so, what are they?
Workplace culture in Southwest LA can be challenging. The challenge is not just POC but being a woman in leadership and a woman of color. Impacts that I experienced was to maintain my self-esteem in keeping up my morale and productivity. Always striving to achieve the highest standard of work ethics. All of my leaders were white males and white females which required that I perform over and above expectations in comparison to some of my peers early in my career. Any conversations that included race were not comfortable especially concerning equity in the workplace.
How did you overcome those challenges?
I have a strong faith-based life. I trust my faith which I try to live it each and every day. There is a quote that I have posted which states, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate…our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” My parents were both educators and taught me how to deal with uncomfortable scenarios. They instilled in me a spirit of accomplishment, pride and self-worth, in which all things are achievable.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to enter into this industry?
Advice for anyone looking to enter our healthcare industry is to develop people skills in working in cooperation with one another and recognizing the diversity of others and the value of their history. Advocating and networking in the workplace can look very different if you are a small percentage of POC in the office. We have to use our voice to speak up on subject matters like supporting single working parents, wages gaps and ethics. Leadership positions are not pipe dreams; we have the capacity to lead. It takes hard work, determination and a creative spirit aligning to our healthcare values in achieving success. We can add value to the bottom line each day.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Exploration and communication of the African American historical culture past and present in educating and recognizing the value that is brought to America. After all, our country was built on these diverse cultures.