April M. Lewis – Associate in Business and Public Service, Midlands Technical College
Class of 2009
Interviewed by Randy D. Heath, Student Employment Services
We are proud to introduce to you our latest Featured Professional, April Lewis, Director of Business Development with Community Integrated Management Services (CIMS). April graduated from Midlands Technical College in 2009 with an Associate Degree in Business and Public Service while majoring in Human Services. She credits Midlands Technical College for helping her prepare for her career field by "instilling the ability to multi-task effectively and be creative" and for not limiting her to "just the traditional classroom setting". She acknowledges MTC for allowing students to be "engaged in the communities" in which they would "one day be leaders".
As a successful leader in the community, April finds her profession to be very rewarding while serving as a liaison for fourteen Community Health Centers (CHC) and major health insurance plans throughout the state. She emphasizes how rewarding it is to "witness the effective delivery of health care to people who need it most". She enjoys "serving as a spokesperson for Community Health Centers and informing the community, state and local legislatures about the great work" that they do. April has major responsibilities that require her to maintain "healthy relationships" with partners and "health center staff members". She credits MTC for helping her to "enhance her interpersonal and intrapersonal skills".
April describes the most important personal qualities someone considering going into her profession should have:
"It is critical to be confident in this position. I mostly deal with Chief Executive Officers, company presidents and other high-level executives, which can be intimidating if you aren't confident. The confidence should be in yourself, your work and the skills you bring to the table that benefit the team. You also must have good speaking and reading skills. Although we live in technologically advanced society, we have countless meetings to discuss contracts, progress and performance and it's imperative that you are able to convey your message effectively. Our Centers are located all throughout the state so I am on conference calls quite frequently and I have to provide a lot of information and updates to a large group of people. You have to be able to speak clearly and concisely so there is no miscommunication or misinterpretation. In this position, you have to be innovative. You must be able to see the bigger picture of our mission and find ways to execute throughout a large network. Working in health care at this level, I have to be cognizant of time. When I plan a meeting or event I must ensure I am providing valuable information that is delivered in a way my shareholders and corporate partners are able to make a difference when they get back to their respective workplaces."
Therefore, April's advice to students at Midlands Technical College who might be interested in entering her profession:
"My advice for them is start somewhere! If there is any interest in joining the health profession just get started, remain open and see where your skills and abilities lead you. Volunteering or shadowing is a great way to get started. You are able to see inside operations and ask questions in advance. You have to genuinely care about the well-being of others to work in healthcare and it is very rewarding once you start."
Although April admits that she is fortunate that the challenges in her profession are few in number, one of the biggest challenges in her profession is the "ever-evolving health care market". April affirms, "You have to be fluid in this field, regardless if you are on the clinical or administrative side. Our mission will never change, but how we meet it does. I have learned the best way to combat stress is to stay focused on the mission."
There is certainly no denying that April is a very busy professional. When asked about her life/work balance, April identified that she balances her life by "remaining focused". She admitted to reading several self-help books on the subject of work/life balance but confessed that nothing worked for her. She recognizes her church leader for influencing her to "stay focused" and then all of her activities would become "balanced". April explains, "I am very passionate about community service, health & wellness and helping others, which MTC exposed me to. I often find myself overwhelmed with work, school, community events, church responsibilities and working-out so it's important that I keep everything on my vision board and ensure all the dots are connected to my overall purpose. I make sure I find time to do nothing! I used to feel guilty for being home and doing absolutely nothing, but I have matured and understand my mind, body and soul must rest to be effective. I have learned to work when it's time to work and rest when it's time to rest."
April offers further encouragement to students and professionals through her own experience and success:
"I wish all students and other professionals who read this the very best in their endeavors. I came to South Carolina by way of a tragedy and knew nothing about Technical Colleges as I was ignorant and thought I needed to go straight into a four-year program after discharging from the Army. I am glad I didn't. I tell people all the time and will always say it, you really can get anywhere from MTC. I can trace every aspect of my current success back to something or someone during my time at MTC. I was truly empowered as a student and prepared to be a professional. The key is to stay focused and know that everyone has a different role to play in society, but together we complete the full mission of a healthy community that encourages successful, teamwork and pride."