1505.Jeanetta Lawrence-0463-Edit

Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic

Some know they want to follow a certain career track from the time they are children, while others start in the pursuit of one objective and end up discovering a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities.  That is certainly the case with Jeanetta Lawrence, chief operating officer at Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic in Orlando, which was founded when Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House and radio was broadcasting the hits of Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman over 78 years ago.

Lawrence credits her oldest daughter for her foray into the healthcare world. “I was a very young mother and I found myself running back and forth to the physician’s office every time my oldest daughter sneezed. One day, I thought there had to be something better than that. I felt the need to understand medicine more so I decided to go to school to become a medical assistant,” she said.

It was, however, a change in her career path, moving from clinical to the administrative side of healthcare, that altered the trajectory of her career. She recalled, “One day the president of the group approached me and asked if I would work in the front office. He explained the need and assured me I was the best choice for the organization. I declined at that time, stating that I truly loved the patient interaction, and had no interest in the ‘paperwork’ side of healthcare.” 

After much coaxing, he convinced Lawrence to give it a try, with the provision that she would still be able to work on the clinical side from time to time. Once she made the decision, she never went back, commenting, “I truly believe that if I had remained in my original role, my career would still be in healthcare, but down a totally different path.” Today, her goal is “to guide the administrative staff to the same level of excellence as Jewett is known in the community for our patient care.”

Though women make up almost 50 percent of today’s medical school graduates and comprise nearly 90 percent of the nursing profession, according to Lawrence and others, at the executive level, 80 percent are men. Lawrence conceded, “At times, I look around the room and it is mostly men.” Yet she has found some memorable mentors like Larry Lehman, the CEO of another orthopaedic practice. “He helped me when I started my career in executive management. I had many questions and reached out to him frequently. Everyone was busy, but Larry was always available. I could call him at any given moment to talk through issues and he would offer suggestions. I am still truly grateful for his advice and the time he spent helping me,” she said.

“In my work, I am very passionate about making sure everyone understands that the patients are why we are in business,” she said. “We want to deliver the best care and achieve a ‘WOW’ experience for each patient we have.”

This article appears in the May 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Business.
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