Valerie Fowler-Robinson knows how to cater to patients’ needs. She’s been doing it for 23 years, although not always in radiology.
The imaging workflow specialist for the Ed and Dora Voyles Breast Health Center at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital started her career with a brief stint in Catering.
“The director of radiology noticed me and said that I should be in Radiology,” Valerie recalls with a laugh. “She said it was my personality.” After only seven months in catering, Valerie joined the Department of Radiology.
Valerie’s effervescence bubbles over as she talks about her career in radiology. The joy comes not from remembering her two years as a file clerk handling radiograph films, but, rather from the special relationships she has developed with patients over the years.
“Patients love me,” she says, a modest understatement. “I love my patients. I love getting to know them on a professional and personal level.”
The director of radiology at the time recognized Valerie was a gifted people person and paid for Valerie to study and become a radiology technologist assistant, a position she held for 7 years.
“When I was a TA, I enjoyed assisting with small bowels, upper GIs, lumbar punctures, and CT contrast insertion. I worked with patients who needed MRIs. Patients tend to be uncomfortable with this piece of equipment. I could detect that so I made them feel comfortable and entrusted my friendship to them”.
When Valerie moved to the Breast Center as a receptionist, her connection with patients really deepened.
“Since I transferred over to the Breast Health Center, it’s been overwhelming—the compassion I feel,” she says. “Being there when a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer is powerful.”
Valerie has grown along with the center. From receptionist to mammography data registrar and then to reading room coordinator. Valerie has honed her organizational as well as her customer service skills. For the past 8 years, as imaging workflow specialist, she provides excellent support for technologists and radiologists too.
“Each morning, I get everything prepared for the doctors,” she says to describe a typical workday. “I make sure our mammo techs are in a jolly mood before patients start coming in. I always come in with a joke or something silly to get people in a positive mood. I always say, ‘If you are going through something, there’s always someone going through something worse.’ It really helps to have a positive perspective.”
Valerie credits her success to a simple formula. “I treat everyone the way I want to be treated. It’s important to be patient and friendly. I love making sure our patients come back in a timely manner for biopsies or MRIs. I get excited helping them get the testing they need to get the proper diagnosis or grading.”
That explains why patients often bypass central scheduling and will work only with Valerie. It’s also why some even ask her to be in the room with them when they receive their imaging results.
“They call me Valerie,” she says. “I’m no longer Mrs. Robinson. I was raised with one simple rule that I keep coming back to: treat others the way you want to be treated. I do my utmost to keep a calm attitude; therefore, it allows the patient to keep calm and relaxed. It doesn’t matter if a patient is rough talking or displays an unfriendly manner, I still treat them with gentle care and respect. We all face fearful moments in our lives and I recognize when patients have to face their fears, so when I stay calm, it helps them to remain calm.”
Valerie can’t imagine working anywhere other than Emory. “I love what I do and I love where I work. My coworkers are the best. Just the other day, we were all so busy, but we kept it moving forward. I promptly volunteered to buy lunch for everyone, even though I had no idea how I was going to afford it. One of my co-workers came to me and said she would pay for everyone as her way of saying thanks to all the co-workers for all the hard work. Her generosity was inspiring.”
Valerie often fills in at other Emory Radiology locations, which has given her a chance to spread her cheer across Emory. She loves working in the health care field, but she admits not all of health care is for her. “I go from being real strong and mighty to weakness when it comes to blood. I can’t stand the sight of blood,” she confesses. “Child birth and the delivery room--noo! That’s not for me either.”
When not on the job, Valerie loves to exercise, especially Zumba, sing in her church choir, and spend time with her two sons and husband of 17 years.
Valerie’s found her place in Emory Radiology and it’s a great fit for both Valerie and Emory.