Teri Wilson-Bridges’ ’10 career path took an unexpected turn after she took a class in special education during her undergraduate studies at Rutgers.
“One of the courses talked about audiology and speech pathology, and it was intriguing to me,” she recalls. “I decided my major would be audiology.”
Since Rutgers didn’t have an audiology program, Wilson-Bridges returned home to the Washington, DC, area to continue her studies at the University of Maryland. In 1988, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Hearing and Speech Sciences, and the next year she began the Master of Arts in Audiology program at the university.
Launching her career
Wilson-Bridges earner her master’s degree in 1991, afterwards completing a nine-month fellowship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center where she gained more audiology experience in the clinical setting. She then went to work as an audiologist in an otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) group private practice for a few years before returning to MedStar Washington Hospital Center in 1995.
As a licensed audiologist, she worked with patients to identify, diagnose and treat hearing and balance problems. She specialized in the detection and intervention of early hearing loss, as well as the evaluation and management of vestibular disorders.
"I remained a clinical audiologist until the time I became director of audiology and speech in 2002,” she notes, of her promotion at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.
Pivoting to administration
In this new role, Wilson-Bridges transferred her focus from clinical work to an administrative function. As director, she was responsible for organizing and driving her department’s programs and operations.
“I didn’t imagine I would shift to an administrative role,” she admits of that phase in her career. “I wasn’t thinking beyond the next five or six years at the time.”
To ensure her success in this leadership position, Wilson-Bridges decided to return to UMGC in 2008 to earn her Master of Science in Health Care Administration. Since she was working full time, she pursued her degree in UMGC’s online program, graduating with her second master’s degree in 2010.
That same year, she was promoted again to the senior director position, adding the oversight of the Otolaryngology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Orthodontics, and Ophthalmology departments to her list of responsibilities. In this new job, Wilson-Bridges was in charge of establishing program objectives, overseeing her teams’ budgets, supervising her departments’ clinical and administrative staff and ensuring billing and coding were done in accordance with hospital policies and procedures.
The scope of her responsibilities extended beyond audiology, so Wilson-Bridges took the time to talk to the providers, staff and administrators to learn more about their individual departments, roles and needs.
“I worked closely with the providers to understand what they do clinically, which was very helpful,” she notes. “Because I have experience working with patients, it helps me relate a lot more to what they are dealing with.”
Onward and upward
With her continued success, Wilson-Bridges was promoted again to her current role: assistant vice president of ambulatory practices. As an executive leader at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, she oversees operations of its Ambulatory Services Division, which includes Medicine, Women’s, Orthopaedics, Surgical Specialties and Ophthalmology. She leads a staff of more than 450 physicians, advance practice clinicians and house staff, along with more than 370 clinical and non-clinical staff with an average of 400 thousand-plus visits each year across 45 sites.
Wilson-Bridges is grateful that she discovered her passion for audiology all those years ago, which led her to where she is today.
“The most satisfying part of my job is being able to assist the providers and administrators in making the experience for their patients a good one in all aspects in operations, from when a patient comes in to when they leave,” she concludes.
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