Sue Victory: A Look Back on 40+ Years in the Department of Pediatrics

June 16, 2021 by Jennifer Nachbur

Department of Pediatrics Administrator Sue Victory will be retiring on July 9, 2021 after nearly 44 years working at the University of Vermont Medical Center and University of Vermont's Larner College of Medicine.

Sue Victory

In 1977, during one of four interview rounds for her first Department of Pediatrics position, Sue Victory was asked if she could commit to staying for at least two years — now, “here I am, going on 44 years this November,” she laughs.

Over the more than four decades since joining the front desk team at the pediatrics primary care practice, University Pediatrics, Victory has seen many changes, most notably the significant expansion of the department, the transition of the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont to Fletcher Allen Health Care in 1995, and branding of Vermont Children’s Hospital (now UVM Children’s Hospital) in 2002.

In the late 1980s/early 1990s, a departmental growth spurt required more coordination, so she took on a “big picture” role, serving as administrative manager for both the clinical and academic sides of the department, in addition to her University Pediatrics duties. It was that change that brought her into the College of Medicine community.

“It was really great to get to know the inpatient staff,” she says. “I learned a lot more about what we were doing, about what every day [across the entire department] was like.”

In 1995, the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont became Fletcher Allen Health Care and the Children's Specialty Center was established. Victory was part of the team tasked with helping design the Center. In addition to working with the architects and construction company, the team assembled a focus group of parents and patients to gather input about how to make pediatric specialty services and inpatient experience more comfortable. When the Specialty Center moved to the East Pavilion from Smith 5 as part of the Renaissance Project-related Ambulatory Care Center construction, Victory helped organize engagement activities for children and families at the Open House events, including hard-hat tours of the department’s construction work.

Up until 2002, she handled administrative duties for the primary and specialty care units. But when the Vermont Children’s Hospital branding was introduced, she transitioned from that work to a more diverse role as a liaison and resource for inpatient and outpatient care. She has handled human resources tasks, including recruitments, often meeting with physician candidates, and sharing information about working for both a hospital and university, as well as budgeting for both sides of the department. She was also responsible for internal and external promotion of the Children’s Hospital and began working with the development and marketing and communications offices to ensure the Vermont Children’s Hospital brand was used across all mediums—web, print publications, television, and radio. In 2014, when Fletcher Allen Health Care became the University of Vermont Medical Center, the name changed to the University of Vermont Children's Hospital.

Victory’s skill in taking on numerous roles during her tenure has been recognized by her colleagues. “I was always curious, wanting to learn more,” she says.

She has worked for every single department chair, including the late R. James McKay, M.D., who was the department’s founding faculty member and first chair, the late Carol Lee Phillips, M.D., former interim chair Richard Colletti, M.D., professor of pediatrics emeritus, and current chair, Lewis First, M.D., who joined the department in 1994.

“There is no job Sue will not take on if asked—and that is more appreciated than words can describe,” says Dr. First. “Her creative ideas have contributed to the strong morale and collaborative spirit between staff and providers, as well as helped us achieve the strong patient satisfaction ratings that we receive annually.”

"It was a new position, and I had a lot to learn," says Victory, who adds that “it kept my life interesting and kept me challenged." The promotion into a management position compelled her to return to school to earn her degree. While continuing to work full-time, she went back to school at the former Trinity College of Vermont (now part of the UVM campus) and earned a bachelor's degree in business management and accounting.

She jokes that after retirement, her next course will be "Basket Weaving I and 2," showing the sense of humor that has sustained her through many years and many roles. In truth, she says, she has always been creative and interested in crafts such as sewing, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and counted cross-stitch. In her crafting, she says, she can easily follow and adapt a pattern—a skill she has applied to work situations. "I analyze why it doesn't work and still use some parts of it [a program, policy, etc.] to solve the challenge," she says.

“Beginning with her position as the University Pediatrics primary care office administrator at UHC and continuing from there to her role as department administrator at the College of Medicine, Sue Victory has been a creative, reassuring and reliable problem-solver, a steady presence of competence and confidence that ensured challenges could be met and the job got done,” says Colletti. 

What is the highlight of her decades-long career at Vermont's only academic medical center? The people, she says. "I've been able to work with UVM staff, patients, families—the diversity of people has kept me going."

One of those people is her boss, Lewis First.

"Lewis has visionary skills for today and into the future and is so supportive,” she says. “He shows that in a way that inspires you to help reach those goals—his energy is contagious—and he has a way of encouraging people and making them want to excel."

Another is Mindy Kear, also a department administrator, who has benefited from Victory’s wise counsel.

“I have enjoyed working with Sue Victory since 2015,” says Kear. “She has been an excellent supervisor, inspiring mentor, and a friend. I am who I am today in no small part thanks to her efforts as a leader.”

Victory will be working eight hours per week after her official retirement on July 9, 2021. She plans to work on surveys, the pediatrics annual report, and pediatrics newsletter. "It's a nice way to transition out," she says.

“We would not be the Children’s Hospital we are without Sue Victory’s myriad contributions, contributions that will sustain and be carried forward by all of us now that she is retiring,” says First.

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