From the moment Shonda Taylor opens her mouth to speak about her career thus far, you know she’s the real deal. Currently the Executive Director of San Jose Health and Rehabilitation Center, Taylor started out as a rehab tech and traveled with a private practice physical therapist in order to help clients in care centers all over the state of Georgia.
“As long as I could remember, I wanted to work in healthcare and to be an educator,” Taylor said. “As I traveled and worked in the nursing homes, I would say: One day, I am going to be a nursing home administrator.”
While on the road to this dream, Taylor discovered another niche for herself. She explained that while working in the rehab tech position, she provided brief massages to the residents, and discovered she had a talent for it. Eventually, she completed a professional massage therapy program, and from there, began providing medical massages to patients in various physical therapy, chiropractic, and orthopedic practices. Soon enough, Taylor became a clinical instructor, leading massage therapy college courses and developing new curriculum.
She got married, and Taylor and her husband relocated from Georgia to Arizona, where Taylor achieved her dream of becoming a nursing home administrator. Over the following years, Taylor and her husband traveled the world and moved around the U.S. Through it all, Taylor continued to feed her passion for knowledge, learning the different health care policies and laws of each state in which they lived. “I love people, and having the experience to both learn from and impart knowledge on others, and to deliver care to residents. I’ve been blessed to do it all over the world.”
After she worked as a nursing home administrator in multiple states, Taylor’s husband eventually retired from his career as a soldier, and they settled down in Florida.
Taylor’s passion for people, the health care field, and academia drive her to continuously learn, achieve goals, and mentor others. Most recently, Taylor earned her Nursing Home Administrator professional certification from the American College of Health Care Administrators (AHCA). While this certification is not required for care center administrators, Taylor said, “it’s a way to set yourself apart. . . It’s the gold standard” of certificates for administrators in this field. “Earning this professional certification was just an awesome feeling. It has to be personal, because this is not something that’s required.”
When asked about what this accomplishment means to her, she said: “I can contribute to someone else from a different vantage point, and become a more extensive mentor. . . I feel like there are not enough true mentors in this industry.” She explained mentoring is her “due diligence,” and that she wants to help others become the best they can be.
“If I build [my staff] up, and encourage them, and teach them, and correct them with love, then they can take better care of the residents—and that’s the number one priority.”
Taylor’s passion for humanity is obvious, and serves both staff and residents well. She explained: “I genuinely love people. I’m intrigued by people. In our facilities, we receive residents late in life. We only know them by what they can’t do at this point. But I love to [ask the residents], ‘What did you do for a living? What was the thing that excited you most?’ In our center, we have scientists, we have inventors, former attorneys, CPAs, medical billers and coders, people have spoken more than six languages… It is amazing. We have all types of phenomenal people, and we have to take the time to get to know what their contributions to society were, because that’s what defines them—not the fact that they’re incontinent now, or that they need help with eating, or that they can’t remember and they’re dealing with dementia. . . I want to know their life stories. So that’s what motivates me to come to work. I want to learn one more thing about my residents and my team every day.”
She said that even the challenging, “ornery” residents excite and motivate her to put forth her best efforts. “I look forward to seeing them. I ask myself, ‘Is today the day that I’m going to make them smile? Is today the day that they’re going to feel grateful for the assistance they’re getting, the fact that they have a family here? Is today going to be that day? Because if it is, then I don’t want to miss it!”
She relayed a story about a resident in dementia/memory care who had formerly worked as a nursing home administrator. “I joked around, and said, ‘if I ever come into this type of setting [as a patient myself] one day, I am going to be just like this person,’ because he was ordering everyone around. We would have to meet every morning—you wouldn’t even know he was a resident. It was just so inspiring, because even although he had dementia and was presently confused, he still remembered being a nursing home administrator. And in his mind, that was his role and the present time and place.”
Throughout everything, Taylor strives to embody Consulate’s core values—compassion, honesty, integrity, respect, passion—and considers respect the most important, and a crucial foundation of the health care field. She said, “Every human being deserves respect. . . If you respect every person, regardless of position, the other core values fall into place.”
Ultimately, Taylor said she wants to continue to grow and build relationships, make her team feel valued, and be a resource for others where she can. “God has given me an opportunity to contribute, and I’m not perfect, but I’ve tried to not take that opportunity for granted.”