January 15, 2019
Denise Jenkins-Agurs, Director of Education at Memorial Hospital West, is a force of nature, cutting paths of instruction that reach every corner of Memorial West.
From housekeepers to leaders, Denise helps employees proverbially see the forest for the mangroves; in short, she shines a light on their strengths and directs them toward a purpose that maximizes those assets.
“Developing people is what I love doing,” says the wife and mother of three. “It’s about holding people accountable to reach their full potential. I don’t believe in playing it safe. I believe you need to get on the field of life. If you can look up, you can get up. Those are things I want to impart on people who come see me.”
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Denise earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration from Ohio University and a master’s degree in education, with a concentration in counseling, from the University of Dayton, along with her Advance Career Coach certification. She worked in two hospitals prior to joining the Memorial family, acquiring extensive experience in education and development, motivational speaking, academic advising as well as personal and career coaching. She’s not a healthcare practitioner, but her holistic administrative background is the reason she was chosen as Memorial’s first nonclinical Director of Education.
“My career has always been about developing talent within organizations, regardless of where you work. The advantage of being a non-nurse is that I think of everything as being inclusive. How can we best provide a wonderful learning experience that’s inclusive of everyone growing in their career?” asks Denise.
Employed at Memorial since 2017, Denise’s role is to oversee the new hire onboarding experience and the education of Memorial West’s clinical and nonclinical staff. She devises creative, fresh ideas to connect at every level in an energized and interesting way.
Her responsibilities include one-on-one coaching sessions and broader-reaching public forums. She’ll sit down with an employee and, with a mix of humor and candor and flushes out why that individual is unhappy or less effective in their position.
“I show a video at our new hire orientation that opens up the conversation about what is your ‘why.’ Your ‘why’ will lead you to your purpose,” Denise says.
She starts a dialogue about personal interests, strengths, goals and dreams. She can’t do the interior (self-reflective) work, of course, but she does support and guide people to become their best selves on their own terms. She calls it finding “your sweet spot.”
Denise is currently spearheading a Professional Development Day – a College and University Expo for the entire healthcare system, which is scheduled for March 2019. Last year’s expo was held for Memorial West employees only; the upcoming event will welcome employees throughout the system at each facility. They’ll mingle with representatives from 15 colleges and universities to discuss continuing education, certification programs and degrees. She encourages people to go back to school if it’s the key to reaching personal and professional fulfillment.
Outside of work, Denise is a professional speaker. “I never met a mic I didn’t like,” she says.
For the last 15 years, she’s hosted a women’s support group called the Sister Circle Network, Inc. What started as a casual kitchen table group in Ohio turned into a nonprofit in North Carolina, the state where Denise lived before moving to Florida. She has a YouTube channel that features her life-affirming videos: Motivational Monday and Tell-It Tuesday. She’s also writing a career development self-help book. Her strong and steady advice to everyone, everywhere is “you have to be okay with you in your journey.”
“My husband says my mouth is my money maker,” she says, laughing. “I’ve spoken to thousands of people about purpose and passion. I’m glad to facilitate and help our employees grow. It’s all about understanding your purpose. When you line that up with what your passionate about, you’ll never work another day in your life. I found my sweet spot. I help other people find theirs.”