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Healthy You

​My Why: Mentoring Is What Feeds Me

Monday, January 17, 2022 9:35 AM

Working in healthcare is uniquely rewarding and challenging. Recognizing our collective need to bring our best to work each day, we've evolved our popular My Story recurring feature into My Why, a look at what keeps NorthShore physicians and employees motivated to consistently deliver exceptional care and customer service at NorthShore.

One of the founders of NorthShore's Black Leadership Forum (BLF), Medical Group Practice Director Robyn Thurston has a lifelong interest in social justice and serving others.

Robyn Thurston

“My mom was a teacher, and teachers are servants. My father was an executive in the '60s, and we moved into DuPage County when there were not many Black families living there," recalled Thurston. “This was after Martin Luther King came to Chicago and was marching for more integrated neighborhoods. My experience growing up was that of being one of the only Black children in school."

Thurston's father was incredibly active serving on boards of many institutions, including the NAACP, and mentoring countless men and women of color, she said. “We saw his involvement and all he did to give back, and it was a natural thing to model," added Thurston.

While COVID-19 has restricted many hands-on and in-person volunteer activities, the work with the BLF has been a very positive outlet for Thurston, who after 30 years in healthcare is also a very active mentor to many colleagues.

“Being available and of service is what keeps me going," said Thurston. “Mentoring is what feeds me. To give a younger person my cellphone number and knowing they can bounce things off me is so fulfilling. These personal connections are what's important in a long career."

A formal mentoring program is one of the latest positive initiatives to come from the BLF. Members were solicited to see if they wanted to participate in a mentoring relationship, and matches are currently being made.

Northwest Community Hospital has a formal mentoring program, and its leaders shared their materials with the BLF's leaders. “As soon as we became introduced to each other, things just grew organically," said Thurston.

“It can be difficult to think about pausing or taking more on when we all have so much to do, but this is all so energizing," said Thurston.

A member of the Health Equity and Impact Team, Thurston is also very passionate about working to close the gap in health inequities. She is hopeful as she sees many researchers and institutions like NorthShore dedicating resources to making positive changes.

Thurston has no intention of slowing down any time soon and is grateful for the many opportunities to continue raising awareness for important issues of inclusivity across the board.