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To celebrate Women’s History Month, Saint Michael’s Medical Center is highlighting some of the women on our team who make the hospital an award-winning health care institution that puts patients first.

Camille Williams is the director of Patient Access for Saint Michael’s Medical Center. She has been in the health profession for the last 12 years and at Saint Michael’s for the last year. She is a lifelong Newark resident. She received her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and is pursuing her masters degree in healthcare management from Thomas Edison State University.

What was your life like growing up?

My parents were raised in the South. Both came to the North to pursue higher education and planted roots in Newark. My parents arrived here before the Newark uprising in 1967 and made a conscious decision to remain here. I admire them both for that. It taught me that when times get tough, stay and find a way to make it better. Do what you can to help your fellow man. Walking away should not always be your first option. I grew up in the historic Weequahic section of Newark’s South Ward. I loved my neighborhood growing up. I had the best neighbors and to this day have lifelong friends from my formative years. I am a Roman Catholic and attended parochial schools for my formal education — Blessed Sacrament Grammar School and Saint Vincent Academy — both located in Newark.

Do you have any hobbies or unique talents?

Traveling is my favorite hobby. I also enjoy anything involving trivia. Jeopardy is one of my favorite game shows. Another fun fact about me is my memory capacity. My family jokingly calls me “Intel” because of how easily I can recall memories from years ago. I am the unofficial historian of my family.

What do you love most about healthcare and patient access?

What I love most about healthcare is that we are presented with the opportunity to change outcomes for those in need. No matter your background, everyone is deserving of empathy and respect, especially when it comes to their healthcare. My role as director of Patient Access is one that I don’t take lightly. Patients have a choice when it comes to their facility of choice. Saint Michael’s was founded by an order of nuns whose mission was to take care of the least among us. I have always been driven to help anyone in need. It is an outward expression of my faith in God. It is an honor to come to work at Saint Michael’s, knowing that my team works diligently to make a difference every day.

What advice do you have for young women interested in the healthcare field?

My number one piece of advice to young women considering a career in healthcare, is to trust your instincts and follow your heart. Be prepared to work hard and show up every day, knowing that you will make an impact on someone’s life. There will be days that challenge you. You might even begin to question whether you have made the right decision. When those doubts surface, always remember your “why.” Your “why” will help reframe your thinking and give you the confidence boost you need to succeed.

As a director of the admitting department what have you learned about your leadership style and how to motivate team members?

What I have learned is that my leadership style continues to evolve to meet the needs of my department. It is important to me that my team feels comfortable addressing any concerns they have. It is equally important that I ensure they have the tools needed to be successful. I welcome and encourage feedback so that we can all improve. What matters most to me is that my team feels respected and supported. I will jump in and register patients when we are short staffed or book beds, obtain authorizations, etc. We do this work as a collective. Even when we are exhausted, we show up. I am proud to lead such a dynamic group of individuals dedicated to helping our patients.

Women’s history month is a time of commemorating and encouraging the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. Are there any women in your life or world history that inspire you or that you admire? If so who and why?

There are many women on the global stage that I admire for the impact they’ve had on my life. My short list would be First Lady Michelle Obama, the late Sister Thea Bowman and the late Dr. Maya Angelou. However for me the woman that I admire most in my life is my mother, Mrs. Ruth Williams. This may seem a bit biased, but my mother is literally the smartest woman I know, with tremendous faith in God. She set a great example for me and my sister growing up.

My mother grew up during the Jim Crow era of segregation in Southwest Louisiana. Knowing the obstacles she had to overcome, reminds me each day that what seems impossible is absolutely possible. My mother was one of four Black women who integrated the nursing school here at Saint Michael’s in 1962. Prior to her admission, the nursing school was segregated. My mother not only graduated from Saint Michael’s Nursing School as one of the top of her class, she went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree from Kean University and completed her graduate work at Seton Hall University. My mother is now happily retired. I am thankful she is here to witness her daughter walk through the halls of the institution she helped integrate 60 years ago. Becoming the director of Patient Access is truly a full circle moment for me, knowing that I stand on the shoulders of the woman who means more to me than anything, my mother.