Alumni Spotlight: Tracy Suber
Vice President for Education, Phoebe Putney Health System
Darton State College (DSC) alumna, Tracy Suber has been appointed as the vice president for education for Phoebe Putney Health System. Dr. Suber graduated from DSC in 1996 with an associate of science in nursing.
Dr. Suber previously served as assistant vice president for learning and innovation at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Prior to her tenure at Phoebe, she served as assistant dean of nursing at Darton State College, where she was instrumental in the development of their RN to BSN program.
Dr. Suber was instrumental in opening the Phoebe Putney Simulation & Innovation Center and started the first of its kind Nursing Simulation and Training Education Program (NSTEP) for novice nurses transitioning from the classroom to patient care.
She is currently leading or participating in several key initiatives with the Department of Education and the University System of Georgia, and SOWEGA-AHEC to develop programs encouraging students of all ages to consider careers in healthcare.
Dr. Suber earned a degree in nursing from Thomas University, a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctoral degree in education with a focus on leadership from Valdosta State University.
She is a member of the American Nurses Association, American Nurses Credentialing Center, American Organization of Nurse Executives, and Toastmasters International, and she serves on the Leadership Albany Board of Directors, Darton Foundation Board of Directors, and as Chair of Training & Professional Development at Work Source of SW GA.
What motivated you to learn more about your field?
I took three years of health occupations while at Lee County High School. Mrs. Beth Harris, RN, was my teacher. She really sparked my interest in nursing and I knew by the time I finished high school I was going into the field.
Why did you choose Darton State College?
Most of my friends went off to school but I needed an affordable option. I was working and paying for my car and knew I would have to rely on student loans for assistance as well.
What do you love most about your chosen profession?
I truly believe I was “called” to serve others. Early on in my career, I dedicated heart and soul to my patients and their families. As my career transitioned from patient care at the bedside, I found that same passion in growing and developing others. I’m now not only an advocate for patients, but also for nurses. I’ve found so much joy in seeing those “lightbulb” moments when something clicks and you know you’ve helped someone connect a concept. I’ve also found much delight in helping others believe that anything is possible, and then seeing it come to fruition through their success.
Who made the biggest impact on you and who do you consider to be a role model when you were at Darton State College?
I came from a broken home with my Mother being my biggest cheerleader. Things were not easy financially, but she always provided. As a high school graduate only, she knew that college would open up opportunities that she didn’t necessarily have. She encouraged me to be independent and I took her advice. There were so many wonderful (and tough) instructors when I attended school at Darton. I think the thing I’m most honored about was going back to Darton first as a part-time clinical instructor, then as a full-time faculty, and later as assistant dean over the nursing program. I had the incredible opportunity to teach alongside my nursing professors – Epesey Bryant, Birdie Gates, Verna Inandan and Linda Lowe are just a few that come to mind. Those great minds taught me and then I got to work and learn a whole new world from them as a fellow colleague.
What advice would you give ASU students in the Darton College of Health Professions and other areas of study?
Stay the course. Nursing is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. But, it will be the most rewarding career allowing you an opportunity to touch the life of every person you encounter. I have been a registered nurse for 25 years and I wouldn’t change a thing about the path I chose.
What would you say to a high school student who has chosen ASU to further their education?
Connect with nursing advisors who can be sure you are on a track for success. Soak up every resource made available for you and seek the guidance of mentors, or those who express an interest in your journey. These individuals will be so important as there will be many times you may need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry. These relationships you will never forget!
What are obstacles you’ve had to overcome to progress in your career?
I’ve been a lifelong learner. I finished Darton with my associate degree at 20 years old and waited some time to return to school. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree when I was pregnant with my first child, my master’s degree when I had just delivered my second child, and my doctorate when my third child was 8 years old. My children have only ever known me in school. There were many late nights at the dining room table studying or writing a paper. At times I wasn’t sure if I would get through. My doctorate course work was the hardest and I actually took a long, hard pause (a year) to decide if I would even finish. Fortunately, I had amazing nursing leadership support at Phoebe, and stayed the course. Pursing your education is a marathon, not a sprint. I had to remind myself that regularly!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I now serve as the Vice President of Education for Phoebe Putney Health System. I have amazing teams and my daily schedule includes departmental huddles, safety huddles, and meetings or project work sessions to move work forward that relates to education, safety, and quality. I regularly meet with academic partners or community partners to network and collaborate on initiatives. After a full day or week at the hospital, you can find me at a sports event (with one of my children) to include wrestling, CrossFit, gymnastics, or baseball.
Outside of your profession, what leadership roles interest you the most?
I love my community. I’m actively involved with Leadership Albany serving on the Board of Directors. I’ve taken a special interest in alumni and network partnerships. I truly believe in the power of relationships and have had much success in collaboration. It’s amazing the work that can be done when you bring like-minded individuals together to serve a common goal. I’m passionate about coaching others, both inside and outside the work setting. So much so, that I have coached many as a certified Level 1 CrossFit coach and a certified Nutrition coach. Again, it’s incredibly rewarding to see lives changed by education, support, and encouragement.