The key to forging a successful career path is to know your strengths and leverage them when life takes you in unexpected directions. If you know what drives you, you will wake up most mornings with energy, focus, and passion.

Medical training is focused on improving weaknesses, but I have found that surrounding yourself with a team that balances strengths and weaknesses is the best approach. My professional life has been devoted to improving the care for older adults and educating their personal and professional caregivers.

I grew up in a rural community, attended pharmacy school and decided to continue my training in medical school. During my pharmacy internship program, I worked in my hometown drugstore. Through home delivery of medication it was evident that the healthcare system fails to provide ongoing support for chronic care needs contributing to poor quality for many of our most vulnerable Americans.

It is second nature to me to care for older adults because of fabulous female role models, my grandmother and godmother. Before the term work-life balance was in our vocabulary, they both successfully demonstrated this balance through some extremely difficult times. Despite personal financial hardship, they sacrificed to share their resources with others. I strive for worklife balance; however, remembering I am a work in progress helps me to accept my shortcomings.

In addition to personal mentors and friends, I have been fortunate to find professional mentors. Having the courage and humility to accept their guidance is difficult at times, but worth it. I continue to connect with mentors, not only because of our shared professional interests but because we lift each other up.

Life has taken me in unexpected directions. The demographic age wave has allowed me to work to improve the care for older adults in a variety of roles – pharmacist, physician, clinician educator, and now VP for a large company providing residential services, rehabilitation and end-of-life care.

Most of these positions have been acquired through personal and professional relationships, which demonstrate the importance of investing the time to know colleagues on a personal level. I am also a wife, mother, and supporter of other women who have so much to offer. My advice is to surround yourself with your circle of supporters, stay true to your passion and invest in and care for yourself.