Lisle, Illinois ~ Corinne (Galgano) Nawrocki, D.O., celebrated a landmark moment in her career this past November, becoming the first woman in more than 120 years to serve as Silver Cross Hospital’s chief of staff.
She represents more than 800 members of the medical staff at the New Lenox-based hospital, working alongside its leadership team, employees, volunteers and physicians. It is the culmination of her life’s ambition, which she didn’t fully realize until after her undergraduate and graduate studies at Benedictine.
“It took me awhile to realize that I am a caregiver,” Nawrocki said. “It comes naturally to me. While I had never been a stellar student in the sciences, I was always a good student and loved learning. I saw the medical profession as more of a vocation than a career choice and still feel that way today.”
A graduate of Benet Academy, Nawrocki earned a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Communication from Benedictine University in 1980.
Among the highlights she remembers of her time at the University were the “Friday Afternoon Club” gatherings with teachers and students at the pub in old Ben Hall and working in the cafeteria. She met her husband, Andy Nawrocki, on a Friday night inside Ondrak Hall.
“We ended up by Lake St. Benedict under the stars and have been together ever since,” Nawrocki said.
And she can still pinpoint some influential discussions she had with faculty that helped solidify the person she is today.
“There is no doubt that Br. Finian Taylor, O.S.B., Ph.D., and Sr. Benita Jasurda, O.S.B., had a positive impact on me,” she said. “They offered a course on end-of-life issues which was one of the most powerful classes I ever took. We read books, we spent time with people with terminal illnesses and we had some very challenging discussions. I have since worked as a medical director for a hospice program and have helped bring a palliative care and hospice program to Silver Cross Hospital.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree, she worked for the University’s Office of Admissions and earned a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in 1985. One month after graduating from the program, she gave birth to her first child and became a full-time mom.
While raising her son, Nawrocki ran a day care business out of her home for four years. Then, with the support of her husband and a second child at home, she decided to return to Benedictine to take science classes in preparation for the Medical College Admissions Test.
Nawrocki earned her medical degree in 1997 from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, and completed both her family practice internship and residency at Olympia Fields Chicago Osteopathic Hospital. She joined Midwest Physicians Group in 2000 and in 2007 became a founding partner of C&R Medical Group. Since then, her practice has grown with the addition of four family practice physicians and a new office on the Silver Cross Hospital campus. Today, the practice serves 16,000 patients annually.
The path Nawrocki took to become a key leader of a major hospital was by no means traditional. But today she sees her diverse educational background as a powerful asset that makes her uniquely adept at handling the challenges that come with the job.
“What I found (and still find) interesting about Literature and Communication is that it is so essential to our human condition,” Nawrocki said. “It can be used to entertain, persuade, educate, express or influence. It involves all the ways we interact with each other and is a subject that superficially seems so basic and obvious, but in reality is filled with nuance, subtlety and richness. I loved it then and love it still.
“In terms of career development, the M.B.A. has been invaluable,” Nawrocki added. “As a partner/owner in a medical practice and chief of staff at Silver Cross, having a basic understanding of finance, accounting and statistics allowed me to actively participate in the operations of my practice, and the management and marketing background of my focus has given me the foundation to build great working relationships.”
She encourages future students to study what they love, and for women who want to grow as leaders to speak their minds, listen and be honest.
“Leadership demands that we ask the difficult questions and sometimes give the difficult or unpopular answer,” Nawrocki said. “It demands that we have the inner strength to really look at and understand the issue and then respond in the best possible manner. Recent studies show that boards that have female representation make better corporate decisions than those that do not. The world needs us to speak up and participate, and we need to nurture, encourage and lift each other up.”
###Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2015.