Question & Answer: Bonnie Wesorick

Bonnie Wesorick founded the CPM Resource Center while working as a nurse in a local hospital. The center has developed a field-tested and effective way to improve all elements of the care process, from point-of-care clinical decision support to healthy work cultures and interdisciplinary team relations. CEI caught up with her to learn how she managed success without a business background.

Starting as a nurse, how did you come up with the idea for the CPM Resource Center, and what made it successful?

It’s actually because I was a nurse that I was able to be successful. I always strove to be the best nurse possible, to provide the best patient care possible.  It became apparent that there was a disconnect between the ideal type of care, and the daily realities that my colleagues and I saw around us. So I spent a lot of time learning the processes, infrastructure and technology that made up the environment I worked in, and then I started thinking about what it would look like if this were the best place to work and to give and receive care, and how I could bridge that gap. 

How did you go from a nurse with an idea to an entrepreneur?

I knew that the product I would make would serve people, because of my experience as a nurse, so I felt a huge passion for it. The business world was new to me, but once I realized the extent to which we could improve practice, there was no question that we were going to do it. I was in a typical bureaucracy at Butterworth Hospital at that time, so I needed to branch out into the business world on my own, which was quite a journey. I was good at math, which made the numbers part of business easy, and I also went back to school to deepen my understanding of healthcare. I then reached out to the Better Business Bureau, the Seidman College of Business and any potential mentor I could find to determine how one would build the organization I wanted to build. Then it was just a matter of where I was going to get the money.  

Where did you get the money and how did you start?

I got a loan from a bank, which was kind of a big deal.  This enabled me to get a place, and to start to get the people who would be needed to help us do the work. I also realized that once we had some great success, I would need to step out of the role I was comfortable in, and move into a larger business world to create a scalable product. That’s when I created a relationship with a technological vendor to make the actual product. That was actually a great lesson for me, because for the first time I saw questionable ethical behavior, but by staying true to my own values, I was able to address the issues and start on the road toward changing the circumstances for those who give and receive care.

Now that you’re a successful businessperson, what advice would you offer to those who may also have a great idea, but no business experience to draw upon?

A great mentor of mine, Max DePree from Herman Miller, told me that one of the great accountabilities for any leader is to know reality. First you have to absolutely know reality for those people you want to serve, and only then can you start to do something. The core of my learning was that you can’t just assume you know, because if you do you might create the wrong solution. Once you’re certain you understand the problem and if you have a passion for the work, then you can start to serve the people impacted by the problem. Always keep in mind, also, that if you’re not becoming a better person because of the work, you may be on the wrong track.

What is the role of the Wesorick Center, which was recently named by GVSU in your honor?

At the core of my life’s work has been a commitment to transform healthcare so that every person who chooses to be a healer, regardless of role or discipline, have what they need to serve humanity and, in addition, that all the those who enter the  healthcare system find it worthy of the trust they give us. There is nothing more humbling than to have the Center for Healthcare Transformation at Grand Valley given my name. It provides me a way to give back to this community, this society and assure this important work continues and expands.

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