Interview with a Lean Leader – Cara Benz Tramer

This is the fourth in a series of interviews to help us get to know our Lean leaders.

Cara Benz Tramer Cara Benz Tramer, RN, BScN Manager Unit 5A Neurosciences, Neuromodulation Clinic, Stroke Prevention Clinic Regina General Hospital, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region

Why do you believe in Lean?

Lean’s foundational components of continuous process improvement, mistake proofing, defect/waste free, rapid improvement, stop the line, and value-added is all about generating conversations. These conversations constantly unveil ideas that guide change to move us forward. Some see change as risk, whereas I believe without change we are limiting our potential and nothing would be more wasteful than that. There are possibilities for improvement in everything, and Lean is like a lens to make sure we don’t miss anything. Health care already has a strong problem solving culture. We work with people every day to improve something they value most: their health. It’s exciting to work in a province and with an organization that is now more engaged than ever in breaking down the silos, making visible our weaknesses and drawing on our strengths to move forward. Big change does not happen overnight, but steps in the right direction happen every minute. I believe with a workforce of over 10,000, our successes will be exponential.

What was your first job? And what led you toyour current position?

My first jobs were in both the food and retail industries. Those jobs ingrained in me the importance of customer service. The value of learning customers’ names, what their expectations were and working with them made for valuable relationships and job satisfaction. I saw that nursing had the potential to continue to make connections with people that would be valuable to them and rewarding as a career for me, and I still see this every day. Experience in both public health and now the day-to-day operations of the Regina General Hospital has given me the perspective of how complex the RQHR is and the appreciation that we have some of the most talented people working towards better health, better care, better value and better teams every day.

Describe something about you that peoplewho haven’t seen your resumé wouldn’t know.

I am co-owner of a flagship retail company started in Regina that since day one has been designed around the customer. It reminds me constantly of the value of engaged staff, happy customers and needing sometimes to think outside the box to find solutions.

If you could be any character in a book, movie,or television show, who would it be and why?

Michael J. Fox from “Back to the Future” for two reasons. First, going back and forth in time would be very helpful when implementing Lean. You could see waste in the future and pop back in time to stop it from being created. Now that would be the ultimate “rapid improvement”! Second, because of where he is now in life. He has accepted his reality of a Parkinson’s diagnosis but continues to work, to see change, progress towards a cure, while demonstrating determination and persistence to help others. I believe that is a Lean lifestyle, knowing that acceptance isn’t resignation. Rather, it is an understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.

– Originally published in Transforming Health Care Through Lean – Summer 2013.


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