Amber Sims, FACHE, CMPE, MBA
Chief Strategy Officer
Saint Thomas Health
A native Nashvillian, Amber Sims grew up watching her grandmother serve the community as a public health nurse. "I remember as a child being in awe of how appreciative her patients and families were of her services and compassion," Sims recalled.
While Sims didn't acquire her grandmother's desire to be a clinician, the two shared a deep passion for making a difference. Once Sims discovered the business side of healthcare, she knew she had found her niche and never looked back.
"I somehow got lucky enough to find a career that allows me to fulfill that passion," said Sims, who has been a member of the Saint Thomas Health team for the past 16 years and was named to her current role in 2015. As part of Ascension Health, the nation's largest not-for-profit healthcare system, Sims said her job is to focus on ways to live out the mission of providing holistic care to individuals and communities in a manner that reflects the system's core vision and values.
"Our strategic direction here in Tennessee is to build integrated systems of care with the outcomes meeting our quadruple aim - low cost, high quality, engaged providers, and engaged patients and communities," she said. "When we think about Saint Thomas Health, our role isn't just about healthcare, it's about the wider community," Sims continued. "Our goal is to be a resource outside an acute episode or traditional healthcare. We really want to be partners in the communities we serve."
In 2007, Sims and colleague Nancy Anness (a previous Women to Watch honoree) started the Day of Hope, Health & Healing as their pilot project for Saint Thomas Health's Formation for Catholic Healthcare Ministry Leadership program. In the decade since, the event has grown to offer a more comprehensive set of services to the uninsured and underinsured in Middle Tennessee and has now spread throughout Ascension, reaching a national audience.
Sims said she feels fortunate to be part of the mission to care for the poor and vulnerable and noted that in today's complex healthcare environment, it requires a team with different skill sets to shift the narrative from episodic sick care to health and well-being.
While she thrives on change, Sims said the rapid pace, coupled with uncertainty over health reform, present the greatest challenges to her work. However, she noted, the current landscape also presents exciting opportunities to reimagine the future. "I love being part of the transformation of healthcare," she said, "because I think it is imperative to change both the fiscal and physical health of our communities."
Just as her grandmother modeled service to others, Sims and her husband Marty make it a priority to share their determination to make a difference with their three-year-old son Oliver and six-year-old daughter Amelia. "We try to instill in our children that they can give back, too," Sims said. While it's always hard for parents to know what messages make a lasting impression, she was pleasantly surprised recently when Amelia asked if her friends could bring items to donate to an animal shelter instead of traditional gifts to her sixth birthday party.
When not at Girl Scouts, basketball, or soccer games, Sims said she and Marty love to try new restaurants. But, she laughingly admitted, limited time and lots of new dining options make it tough to keep up.
Although a hectic, full life keeps her busy both at home and work, Sims said her overarching feeling is one of gratefulness. "I have been so fortunate to have so many people invest in me, I want to give back by helping others on their journey," she said.
Whether it's watching her children grow and flourish, fostering development in the next group industry leaders, or reaching out to improve health, Sims said it all comes down to building lasting relationships. "I strive to live by Maya Angelou's quote: 'I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,'" she recited.
At the end of the day, Sims said the mission of Saint Thomas Health is to make all those with whom they come in contact feel valued, respected, engaged and empowered as they partner together to create healthier communities.