Christine Kohler worked in the emergency room for 15 years before she decided to leave. She was fearful she wouldn’t find another role as exciting or meaningful as being an ER nurse, until she began working at General Motors as an Occupational Health Nurse and Health Care Supervisor! While you may not think of GM as an employer for the medical professions, Kohler shares that the automotive company has “limitless opportunities” for people in the medical field.
We spoke to Kohler about her role as a health center supervisor at the GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri and how she’s mentoring her team to grow into the best nurses that they can be. Christine feels General Motors is both an exciting environment and one that respects work-life balance, which allows her to de-stress outside of work…something all nurses could use a little more of!
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been in my current role a little over two years. My nursing experience is in emergency medicine. I was an ER nurse for over 15 years before I came to work at GM.
What does your role entail?
I have many responsibilities as a GM occupational health nurse. We see employees for work-related injuries and illnesses and manage their care. We also complete work-related qualification and surveillance exams based off the requirements of different jobs. We respond to emergency calls within the plant, which may be for an occupational or non-occupational condition. Plus, we work with our key business partners in other departments.
My role as the health center supervisor involves overseeing all essential functions of the medical department and the care of the employees. I work with the health center medical Director and part-time physician on patient cases and manage complex cases. I maintain the nurses schedule, ensure compliance with physicals lists, order supplies, ensure the nurses have the equipment they need to do their jobs and hold staff meetings. I train all new GM employees during their new employee orientation about the different functions of the medical department within the plant. I also attend meetings at the plant level to address and support many topics, including plant performance and metrics, safety, wellness, and workplace of choice initiatives. My job is challenging and there is something new every day that keeps it exciting.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
The opportunities for advancement within General Motors in the medical field are limitless. Nurses that work for General Motors have many opportunities for career advancement. We are blessed to have wonderful mentors across the corporation who are more than willing to help you become successful.
What about outside of work?
Outside of work, I love spending time with my husband on our farm and playing with the animals. I also love spending time with family — I have 12 nieces and nephews — and my dog, Bandit.
Something many people may not know about me is that I have also been tinting car windows since I was 16. Like I mentioned before, I have always had a passion for cars, specifically GM Sports cars — the Camaro, the Trans Am and especially the Corvette! My first car was a Camaro and I wanted to get the windows tinted. Long story short, I started tinting windows for the same company that tinted my first car shortly thereafter. The rest is history. I have owned my own window tinting company since 1998, so I have been making cars look better for a long time now.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
The career move I am most proud of was choosing to leave the emergency room and go to work for General Motors. It was hard and it was scary, because the ER is all I ever knew, but I am so glad I did it. I get to combine something I have always been passionate about (cars) with my career in nursing. I still get all the excitement an ER nurse has with a work environment that can bring unexpected situations, but at the same time, I get to help build and coach a team of nurses to be the best they can be in this specialty field of Occupational Health Nursing.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
I love that our nurses, not only here at the GM Wentzville Assembly Health Center but across our organization, are truly like an extended family. They help each other in times of need or when they just need to bounce ideas off each other. I love that I have a great network of people I can reach out to.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
The best advice I can give to women who are looking for jobs right now is to go for something you are truly passionate about. Do something that is going to make you happy.
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My husband, Dale, is the most influential person in my life. He is old-fashioned and I love that about him. He is a farmer and works harder than anyone I know, and I am not just saying that. He is always willing to help others and goes out of his way to take care of family members who may not be able to do what he can do. There is never a dull moment with him and he is always laughing and having fun. He makes me feel like I don’t have to be so serious all the time and that it is OK to just “wing it” sometimes. He is truly a blessing to me and my family, and we are so lucky to have him in our lives.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Don’t try – do. If you “try” to do your best, you will always be trying. Instead, “do” your best and feel good about it.
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