Yendi Fontenard was born and raised in Saint Lucia and pursued a unique career path in science. After completion of four years of medical school at the University of the West Indies in 2012, she made a life altering decision to leave clinical medicine, due to debilitating sickle cell disease (SCD) related complications, that she had not previously experienced. She relocated to Miami in January 2013 to pursue a Master of Public Health (MPH) at the University of Miami, committed to remaining in healthcare, but in a non-clinical capacity.
During graduate school, healthcare administration & operations piqued her interest, more so than the traditional research route that MPH graduates embark on. After graduating in December 2014, she accepted a position as a Quality Analyst at Sylvester Comprehensive Center, but was intent on pursing her recently identified passion. In October 2015, she began a two-year healthcare administrative fellowship at Jackson North Medical Center. In this role, she completed rotational assignments through both clinical and ancillary departments.During this fellowship she also mentored a high school student through the Big Brother Big Sister Program.
Yendi currently works as a Performance Improvement Advisor at Jackson Health System where she assists nursing teams with the improvement of outcomes on their unit. Her next career aspiration is to transition into Healthcare Strategic Planning and Market Analysis. Yendi fought to overcome a toll on her health to pursue a career in Hematology, to enable her to deliver care to SCD patients, like herself, who are often discriminated against. From a young age, her career was decided upon and being able to have self-insight as to when to end that chapter of her life, was not an easy task. Changing careers was a gamble,but she believes that the uncertain chapters in our lives, are sometimes the most beautiful. She has received vast exposure to healthcare that the myopic scope of clinical medicine would not have allowed.
Of equal importance to me is having work/life balance and I make time for what I love to do, including “everything outdoors”, exercising, going to the movie theatre, frequently doing something new and spending time with family and friends.
To all women interested in pursuing a career in science, my advice is as follows:
• Do not expect success to be handed to you –challenge yourself and be uncomfortable, as previously uncomfortable endeavors, once practiced, leads to mastery
• Do not limit your exposure to only science and technology – being successful in this field requires broad exposure to the gamut of other fields and perspectives
• If you ever think an endeavor is impossible, read the biography of Elon Musk
• If you lack confidence professionally and socially, read – “Presence” by Amy Cuddy
• When you’re considering a leadership position in your field, read – “Creativity Inc” by Amy Wallace & Ed Catmull
• And success is only achieved through dogged persistence and learning from mistakes and successes!