Administrative assistants rise to the challenge

Photo of the secretarial group

Administrative assistants who serve our physicians. Front row, from left: Carol Rose, Carolyn Carbery, Denise Welsch and Carole Bradshaw. Back row, from left: Ann Chanitz, Kelly Damico, Deb Thompson, Kacy Lally and Patty Tampow. Not pictured, Alana Huber.

Hidden across the medical school campus are a select group of administrative assistants who serve the physicians in otolaryngology. Collectively, they’ve been serving Washington University for more than 200 years (an average of 20 years each). Their list of duties is almost as long as their years of service, but one thing is certainthey know as much about the operations of this department as anyone.

Those routine duties include credentialing, licensing, arranging travel, taking/making phone calls, and scheduling just about everything you can imagine. Each physician needs something a little different than the others, but these superhero assistants are here to accommodate if nothing else.

As varied as their work is, some things are consistent. The work is always done well, always done with a smile, and when someone needs a hand, there are several ready to be extended. “When the need arises, you can call any one of the other assistants, and they are happy to help,says Denise Welsch, a veteran of the group with 32 years of service.

That is a feeling reflected by many, including their supervisors.  “A high level of team morale and cooperation yield a remarkable level of productivity and longevity,” says Carolyn.

The group tends to appreciate a relatively handsoff style of management. “Sometimes you just need that little break to talk, joke and laugh and it can make the day so much better,” says Kelly Damico. “We know when work needs to get done and we get the job done.”

All their duties are not so routine, however. They have designed tshirts, picked up specimens from the morgue, arranged golf tournaments, and many more atypical requests. When asked what the strangest request they’ve received from their physicians however, the response was a unanimous, “We don’t tell!” Turns out loyalty is a quality they all share as well.