Employee of the Month - La Toya King

November 2016Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine

La Toya King

La Toya King says part of her job as Student Educational Programs Administrator is keeping other people happy. And although it’s tricky, considering one of the tasks is creating the resident ICU schedule, La Toya says she gives it her best shot: “I take pride in my work and hate to let people down.”

In addition to the ICU schedule, she on-boards postdoctoral scholars and visiting residents, administers the T32 grant and works with fellowship coordinators to process salary, reimbursements, duty hours, Visas and evaluations. Recently, since the division has been down a coordinator, she has actually been covering two positions.

“She does all of this without a complaint,” says Ann Weinacker. “She just asks how she could do her job better. As soon as La Toya jumped into her new position as Student Educational Programs Administrator, she also had to take on all of the responsibilities of the PCCM Fellowship Coordinator, who is on sick leave. You’ll find yourself receiving emails from her at all hours of the night as she responds to questions that go outside the parameters of her job description. La Toya has helped with the onboarding process of many new postdocs, a process entirely new to her, while also coordinating 60 applicant interviews for PCCM and training two new fellowship coordinators.”

Carrying the responsibility

One of those new coordinators is Elisa Hernandez, who – like Ann Weinacker – has noticed how skillfully La Toya has managed the latest transitions in the division. Hernandez says, “La Toya King was recently promoted from Critical Care Fellowship Coordinator to Student Educational Programs Admin, making her the supervisor of the two coordinators in our division. Unfortunately, almost immediately after being promoted, one of our coordinators went on protracted medical leave and La Toya inherited all of her duties. Being the other coordinator, La Toya rarely asks me for help. She takes care of the PCCM coordinator position almost entirely on her own while still training me in my new role and learning her own new role.”

Under these circumstances, it would be easy to rush through training and prepare Hernandez to be up and running as soon as possible. Instead, Hernandez says La Toya has taken on greater responsibility in order to make sure that she has a chance to get her feet underneath her: “La Toya knew that I wasn't comfortable making the hospital schedules [at first] since I was still learning the process, so she kept the schedules for an extra couple months. She made sure that I wasn't given too big a task before I was comfortable. Throughout my training I had (still have) hundreds of questions for La Toya on how to do things, and she would always find time to answer.”

She adds that La Toya works tirelessly for the division: “I would find emails from La Toya sent before I even woke up that morning (5 a.m.) and sometimes as late as midnight. La Toya always makes herself available.”

Creating opportunities for others

The other new coordinator La Toya has been training is Christina Sabathia, currently on temporary assignment with the division. Sabathia says that La Toya has gone the extra mile not only to train her to fill a specific role while the PCCM coordinator is on sick leave but also to help her explore career opportunities. She says, “La Toya recognized my strengths and placed me on paths to be recognized by faculty. I will be forever in debt to her. What an amazing woman!”

La Toya’s been on the lookout for opportunities for others, as well. Brian Shaller, who has worked with La Toya during his residency and fellowship, says, “It's hard to pick specific examples to demonstrate how awesome La Toya is because she does pretty much everything from making sure everything ran smoothly during our fellowship orientation to putting together our schedules and coordinating our conferences. Notably, La Toya is always on the lookout for information on PCCM job opportunities across the country, which she forwards to our fellowship group -- an invaluable service for fellows looking toward their post-fellowship future.”

Taking time to smile

Weinacker and Hernandez aren’t the only colleagues who notice La Toya’s around-the-clock dedication. Javier Lorenzo says, “Routinely, I get emails from La Toya in the evening hours when she is working on projects at home.” And so when it comes to free time, La Toya does not mince words. Although she does volunteer at church, she says, “I am a mother of three. I don’t have time for hobbies.” However, she accompanies that note with a smiley-face emoticon, which may be an indication of her approach to life and work, which she calls “a big family.”

“La Toya always has a smile on her face,” says Lorenzo, “no matter how much work or stress she is carrying. She is responsive, professional and always friendly. It is a pleasure to always work with her.” Weinacker agrees. She says, “La Toya is always cheerful and willing to do more.  She has been extraordinary.”