As alumna Anne Curry-Smith walks the halls of the sprawling Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, she can’t help but keep her eyes peeled. As Associate Director of Accreditation, Anne is constantly on the lookout. It’s her job to ensure the Clinic meets safety, health and other standards—and that means she has to keep stock of everything from the placement of an exit sign over a doorway to leadership awareness training. For anyone it would be a tall order. For Anne, it’s a passion: “It’s become a part of who I am,” she says, “I love what I do.”
Saving Lives with Rigorous Standards
Today hospitals are safer than ever—and it’s no small accident. Decades of activism and regulatory work put in place by the FDA and end enforced by people like Anne has led to a safer, more pleasant experience for hospital patients.
Anne is responsible for nonclinical areas impacted by regulatory standards, including medical records, environment of care, patient complaints, informed consent, and advance directives, among others. When a compliance concern is uncovered, she is often the first to start the process of fixing it. “I bring the right people and the right resources together with the goal of remaining compliant. Ultimately, compliance is about doing the right thing for patients.”
In addition to helping Cleveland Clinic maintain accreditation, Anne has also had the opportunity to support its growth by working on the Clinic’s physician integration initiative, a program which invites community physicians in private practices to join the Clinic as part of a group practice. “The physician integration initiative is a huge undertaking and something I’ve been very proud to work on,” says Anne. Anne’s work always brings exciting new challenges—a fact which has kept her at Cleveland Clinic for almost a decade.
Of course, while this demanding environment is where Anne now thrives, she didn’t always expect her passion for accreditation to take her as far as it did. “I never thought this was the direction I was going to take, “she recalls, “but things happen for a reason and I’m thrilled with the opportunities I’ve discovered.”
A native of rural Maine, Anne grew up in a healthcare family; her father was a pharmacist and her mother a nurse. “I was very attracted to the field, but was too squeamish to be a nurse,” she says. So, Anne began her entry into the medical field as a medical transcriptionist. After moving to Cleveland, she earned a bachelor’s degree in health services administration and began working at Cleveland Clinic.
Anne soon realized, however, that in order to climb the ranks and make lasting career moves, she would have to invest in her education. “I wanted to move up in the company and I knew a master’s degree would help me get there,” she says. Looking for a school that would allow her to apply work experience to her courses, Anne found Strayer University. “Knowing how important accreditation is, I chose Strayer because it offered a rigorous and accredited curriculum through an online program,” she says. Like many adult students, Curry-Smith was looking for the flexibility of an online program as she balanced a challenging career and a personal life with earning a degree. “My husband, Mark, was very supportive,” she recalls, “and often had a late evening meal ready for me after I completed final exams online following a full day of work.” Anne graduated with a Master of Science in health services administration in 2008, and the degree still serves her today. “Not only do I feel prepared to help the Clinic grow,” she says,” but I also feel empowered to grow my own career—setting and meeting my own high standards.”