Female trailblazers: Karen Crites Hendrickson

Monday, November 15, 2010
Karen Hendrickson is vice president and chief nursing officer at Southeast Missouri Hospital. (Fred Lynch)

Dr. Karen Crites Hendrickson

Vice president and chief nursing officer at Southeast Missouri Hospital

1. What's your passion in life?

My passions are my faith, my family and my work. My goal is to be a role model for others.

2. It's been 90 years since women earned the right to vote. How have the lives of women changed in your lifetime, and what do you see for women in the future?

The lives of women have changed significantly in my lifetime. The opportunities are endless for personal fulfillment as well as professional growth. As a high school graduate in the '60s, the two primary choices in the professional workforce were nursing and teaching. Today the opportunities are to be had by one who has focus and dedication to be all she can be.

3. With your background at Southeast, what do you see as women's biggest concerns? What are you doing to address those concerns?

This community is not unlike other communities with respect of women's needs. The greatest need in my view is to be educated and experienced so they may become persons who can control their own destiny. Life circumstances often are beyond one's control, but no matter what comes their way, no one can take from them their intellect, education, work ethic and integrity.

I feel a great sense of responsibility as a woman of some success to give back to my community. I have done so by giving talks and presentations on professional image and behaviors. I have encouraged women at all levels and in all walks of life to be all they can be. It may take them until they are 50, but at that time they will be 50 anyway, so why not have met their goals at that time? I have encouraged women to be lifelong learners, as the work world is constantly changing and desired skill sets change. I have served as a mentor to students as well as professionals. I believe role modeling and sharing experiences through stories makes others stronger. I encourage women to network, volunteer and be active in their community because it is the right thing to do, but also it helps one to become known as the person who can get things done.

4. How is Southeast Missouri doing well when it comes to quality of life for women? Where are we falling short?

I would like to think that this area is doing well when it comes to quality of life for women. For many women, the world is theirs to be had. However, I know there is abuse, neglect and stumbling blocks for some who wish to change or enhance their life circumstances. I encourage persons who feel they could use some help to reach out through their friends, church and the many organizations available to help set one on a positive future path. It takes but one step at a time.

5. What advice would you give to young women who are just starting their careers?

My advice to young women is to "have the right tickets," which I call education, work experience and professional presence, so that when opportunity presents itself they can choose to use the ticket or remain in their present circumstance. For those who feel they cannot afford the costs of education, they need to look to local, state and federal programs that are available to most individuals for support of continued education. One should surround herself with successful people and develop a strong network of persons who will speak on your behalf and represent you well in your efforts to improve. Don't be afraid to put yourself forward should you see an opportunity.

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