Audrey A. Simmons MBA, MS, BSN, RN, PMH-BC
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Audrey Simmons is an award-winning educator and leadership coach who values service, excellence and connection. Delivering thought-provoking presentations, she is able to connect with audiences, inviting them to reconsider their perspectives and strategies. Audrey is also a leadership coach, aiding entrepreneurs and leaders in leveraging their focus and prioritizing what matters most at work and in life. She specializes in helping those leaders with ADHD or ADHD-like characteristics to overcome challenges, giving them the tools needed to achieve success.
Audrey holds an MBA, a Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Education, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Regis University. She is board certified in Psychiatric Mental Health through the American Nurse Credentialing Center. Audrey worked her way up from an entry-level position to earn her seat overseeing operations for service lines and standalone behavioral health hospitals. Having received extensive training and mentorship in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), Audrey incorporates mindfulness practices into her coaching sessions with clients.
Audrey is passionate about people, leadership, successful businesses and representing the ADHD population. Her strong background in leadership, education, mindfulness and mental health makes her a powerful coach. Today, Audrey is the owner of Team of Greats, a coaching company dedicated to working with entrepreneurs and leaders, including those with ADHD, as well as newly promoted healthcare leaders. Team of Greats LLC is committed to the resilience of all entrepreneurs and leaders.
When not coaching, writing, reading or speaking, Audrey can be found hiking the trails of Nolde Forest, searching for golf balls with her husband in Lancaster, PA, or snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains.
I started my coaching practice with one goal in mind: to support people in recognizing the self-limiting beliefs preventing them from living their lives powerfully.
Using a coaching approach has allowed me to support individuals to view their lives from a different perspective. Clients are able to see their strengths and to let go of self-limiting beliefs while gaining clarity about solutions to the challenges they face.
Having over 20 years of experience coaching teams while in Healthcare Leadership and individuals while in Mental Health Nursing, my experience has given me the opportunity to coach people when they are at their worst and when they are at their best. Serving as a speaker on topics such as resilience, work/life balance, and mindfulness.
This I know to be true, when a coach approach is taken, being heard is transformational.
Education & Skills
Wellspan Health: Director of Inpatient Operations and Services
- Oversaw a 118-bed Inpatient Behavioral Health stand-alone hospital, containing a Child, Adolescent, Adult, and extended Acute Unit with an average of 95% occupancy.
- Lead and coached four multi-disciplinary teams with a total of 17 direct reports, overseeing over 240 employees.
- Collaborated with five emergency rooms in five different counties.
- Drove a successful 27-65 State Survey in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and a successful Joint Commission Survey in 2022.
Hospital Corporation of America, The Medical Center of Aurora: Director of Nursing
- Lead and coached a total of 127 Nursing FTEs with nine direct reports within an 80-bed Behavioral Health and Wellness Center that included an Electroconvulsive Treatment Program, Outpatient Services Department, three inpatient units (i.e., Adult Inpatient, Geropsych Inpatient, and Adolescent Inpatient).
- Led a multi-departmental team to renovate a space, create and coach a team, and successfully open the Electroconvulsive Treatment Program.
- Opened a 20-bed adolescent unit
- Built and maintained professional relationships from previous facilities of employment, resulting in key business partnerships in the community.
- Collaborated with the education department to streamline the Behavioral Health orientation process for onboarding staff.
- Championed a culture change that has sustained and resulted in employee participation rates of 81% and higher.
- Successfully mentored new managers into the HCA system, further solidifying a culture of excellence and accountability.
- Drove a successful 27-65 State Survey in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and Joint Commission Survey in 2017.
- Was personally mentored by and directly reported to the Chief Operating Officer of Behavioral Health Services for the Division Service Line, Cindy Meyer.
Denver Health: Nursing Program Manager
- Managed the nursing department of Denver CARES, which is a 100-bed, non-medical, and clinically managed treatment facility, whose mission is to provide assessment, education, motivational counseling, residential treatment, and safe detoxification for public inebriates.
- Developed educational opportunities for the nurses and behavioral health technicians, regarding professional communication, leadership skills, and clinical skills, through personal coaching, in-services, and role-modeling, all while aligning each growth measure with the mission and vision of Denver Health Medical Center.
Denver Health Nurse Educator:
- Championed a successful 27-65 State Survey in 2012, 2013, and 2014 and a successful Joint Commission Survey in 2014.
- Curated and maintained orientation programs and educational opportunities for all novice and experienced staff within all Behavioral Health departments including the inpatient adult unit, the adolescent unit, the ACUTE eating disorder unit, and the psychiatric emergency department.
- Provided leadership and coaching for the team and unit with constant collaboration between all inpatient unit managers and charge nurses and acted as interim manager routinely for the Adolescent Unit.
- Engaged in departmental leadership activities and acted as the liaison for behavioral health departments.
- Demonstrated an understanding of assessment findings as they related to disease process and continuum of care and related these findings to the multidisciplinary team.
- Evaluated practice in relation to professional standards, statutes, regulations, hospital and departmental policies, and standards of care, and upheld strict, continuing requirements of regulatory agencies.
- Worked at the bedside with patients to maintain psychiatric and medical nursing skills and to fill any holes in the schedule, as needed.
- Investigated new standards and processes of care through evidence-based practice and research within the mental health field.
Eating Recovery Center: Lead Charge Nurse/Nurse Manager:
- Managed a 24-bed acute inpatient eating disorder unit leading and coaching over 40 full time employees.
- Participated in daily treatment planning and patient care coordination.
- Collaborated with multiple departments to move the Partial Hospitalization Program from the downtown location to a suburbia location resulting in the doubling of capacity to treatment patients.
- Provided education to staff members and encouraged evidence-based practice by presenting new concepts after attending conferences.
APNA Council for Mental Health Advocacy Advisory Panel:
- Advisory Panel Member on the Steering Committee
- Providing input on strategy and completing specific tasks, surveys, or reviewing resources
Spirit of Nursing Award Nominee recognized for exceptional service, strong work ethic, being a role model, advocating for quality and safety for clients and colleagues alike.
Clinical Nurse Educator of the Year: Educator of the year is an award given to a hospital educator based on the nominations written by colleagues who deem this individual a role model, educator and great coach. Educators are devoted to teaching and coaching nurses who work in healthcare facilities. Teaching and coaching nurses about the skills and knowledge needed to provide evidence based, patient centered care. In addition, educators are often responsible for preparing teams for outside agency surveys, state surveys, yearly competencies, and onboarding all new staff. Educators who are nominated for this award are respected nurses with exceptional organizational and leadership skills.
Five-time Star Award Recipient acknowledged for innovation, collaboration, leadership, patient safety and staff development. A star award honors staff members who have shown extraordinary initiative to solving a specific problem and made an extra effort to help someone while demonstrating Denver Health’s values.
My Coaching Story
My name is Audrey Simmons. I have worked in healthcare since 1998, starting as a volunteer at a local nursing home. I worked as a certified nurse assistant full-time through college. After getting my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Regis University, I started working as a registered nurse in one of the busiest Labor and Delivery units in Denver, Colorado. I worked in Labor and Delivery for about three years. After finding out I was unable to have children myself, I left Labor and Delivery.
I worked as a clinical instructor at the University of Colorado and at Regis University to pay for my Master of Science in Nursing Leadership and Education. I found myself missing the hospital setting, so in addition to working as a clinical instructor and going to grad school, I returned to the hospital setting as a mental health nurse.
In psychiatric nursing, I worked on the Inpatient Units with patients who had anxiety, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and addictions. These patients were from all socioeconomic statuses. I worked on the Adult unit, Child/Adolescent unit and in the Emergency Room in the Psychiatric Emergency Services unit. During this time, I was promoted to Nurse Educator and received an award the following year for Nurse Educator of the Year. I completed my master’s degree.
It was shortly after this promotion while talking with a colleague about how physically painful it was for me to sit in some of the long meetings I had to attend now, that they responded lightly with, “well of course! You have ADHD”. I laughed them off saying it was impossible. I mean I had accomplished a lot by that time. But the longer I thought about it, the more it made sense. I went to see a psychiatrist.
I explained to the psychiatrist the challenges I experienced in my life. I talked about my promotion, the degrees I had, and my childhood school experience. Her conclusion after an in-depth intake session was to have me put on a 2 day trial of Adderall. She said I would know right away because I would either be very energetic or the calmest, I have ever felt. I remember the day I first took Adderall because it was the first day I had ever felt like I wasn’t existing in a pressure cooker. I had no idea life could be experienced in this way. I called my psychiatrist and cried on the phone, telling her how grateful I was to her. Up until that point I had been managing my symptoms with intense workouts which took hours every day, sleeping medications, drinking coffee and apologizing a lot. I cannot express the difference medication has made in my life.
Shortly thereafter, I started my Master of Science in Business, took a promotion managing a 100 bed detox center, and started a podcast. I then completed my MBA and then took a position as the Director of Nursing for an Inpatient Hospital. It was in 2018 when my father got sick, I decided it was time to move from Colorado back home to Pennsylvania to be closer to family. Yes, I still miss Colorado every single day; one just cannot forget those blue skies, especially after 19 years.
Moving to Pennsylvania, I took a position as the Director of Operations for a standalone Mental Health Hospital. During my time at that organization, we went from paper charting to electronic, had three yearly state visits in a row resulting in no citations, and a successful Joint Commission survey. In addition to the many initiatives rolled out one after the other, our team dealt with a heavy loss and then the COVID pandemic hit. As many know, healthcare was under incredible pressure and continues to be. It was during this time, I was nominated for the Spirit of the Nurse Award. This was a great honor especially inside of it being during a worldwide pandemic.
In April of 2022, I decided it was time for me to leave my position. The pandemic had slowed down to the point many considered it to be over and as a leader, it was a good time to make a transition.
I flew to Colorado to spend time with close friends. I flew to Desert Hot Springs and spent time in the Joshua Tree National Forest. I read. I wrote. I hiked. I thought about the things I loved about the work I had had the privilege of doing, leading great teams. The aspect of this work I loved the most was the conversations with the teams and the conversations with individuals. These conversations often were about holding space for colleagues to be heard, noticing what words or phrases kept coming up for them, asking them….what else is there? Truly partnering with them. Acknowledging them as the experts of their lives. Trusting in their current state of greatness and calling out to their future state of greatness, reminding them of who they are.
When leading, I wish I had had a coach to partner with that had been outside of my organization. A person I knew was one hundred percent for me, holding space for me non-judgmentally. In addition, I wish I had thought of getting a coach who had experience with ADHD because it would have created this knowing that I wouldn’t have had to explain or apologize for because that person would have already understood ADHD.
ADHD has challenged me in ways I am grateful for. I have had to learn how to feel big emotions while remaining steady, cultivate mindfulness, focus my attention, engage in self-care resulting in a greater work/life balance. I have had the opportunity to disrupt preconceived notions about what someone with ADHD looks like and about what we are able to accomplish. These challenges are rarely dealt with once, but rather it becomes a way of life to check in with the self and see when things are unbalanced so we can balance them again.
In addition to ADHD, my family has battled with addictions, physical and emotional traumas and mental illness. When someone tells me they have been through the “hard of life”, I understand what that can feel like and look like.
The background I have in mental health/psychiatric nursing, leadership, ADHD and mindfulness is the foundation I have built my coaching practice on. These experiences have taught me to be direct in my communication, curious, courageous and humble.