Healthcare Design’s regular Face Time column engages industry professionals in a fun, insightful, and thought-provoking Q+A interview. In our latest installment, Betsy Sanchez, director of medical equipment, capital deployment, at HCA in Nashville, Tenn., shares her career path and how her design skills extend from healthcare to gingerbread houses.

How did you get started in healthcare?

I started out with a radiology degree (X-ray tech), which I wasn’t really a fan of so I decided to pursue a radiation therapy degree so I could work with cancer patients. The typical length of treatment is six weeks and I loved getting to spend extended time with patients. Helping put a smile on their face during this difficult time of their life was something that filled my heart and soul with love and purpose.

Why did you decide to leave the clinical side and earn your degree in interior design?

Years of lifting patients took a toll on my back and I had to figure out another avenue for my talents. I’ve always been drawn to design so, at the encouragement of my husband, I went back to school for interior design and soon realized my interest was more in flow and space planning.

How did you land at HCA?

During my interior design college days, I continued working part-time as a radiation therapist at one of HCA’s facilities and after graduation was encouraged by one of my instructors to contact HCA’s design and construction department to see if there were any job opportunities. Luckily, there was an opening for a medical equipment manager position, which allowed me to utilize my clinical experience and design background. I dearly miss patient contact each day, but I’m able to still affect patient outcomes in my director’s position in capital deployment at HCA. Our department encompasses furniture and textiles, which allows me to tap into my interior design background on a daily basis.

How does clinical experience help you in your current role at HCA? 

Having 16 years of clinical experience as a radiation therapist offers an understanding of the hospital flow and equipment requirements.

What was your first healthcare project?

StoneSprings Hospital Center, in Dulles, Va. It was a new 124-bed hospital complete with five operating rooms, a sterile processing department, full imaging department, and large cafeteria.

What design lesson did you learn on that project that you still carry with you today?

Organizational skills, time management, and patients are my best friends. All of the multiple personality types I encountered on such a large project taught me how important soft skills were.

 Three recent healthcare design projects and your role

1 Angel Medical Center, Franklin, N.C., medical equipment manager.

2 Mission Behavioral Health Hospital, Asheville, N.C., medical equipment manager.

3 Swedish Medical Center Tower Expansion, Englewood, Colo., medical equipment manager.


An unexpected item on your desk … 

A stuffed Monkey with Velcro hands and feet. It belonged to my hiring boss who is the calmest person I know. He gave it to me after he retired to remind me of him on the days I’m so completely stressed with deadlines.

Outside the office, we’ll likely find you … 

Conjuring up some outdoor project or traveling to a fun destination with my husband or our fabulous friends.

What’s a new hobby you’ve picked up during the pandemic?

Experimenting with new recipes at home.

Dog or cat?

Both. Our beloved 16-year-old West Highland Terrier passed away last February, so we decided to give kitties a try. They are so completely different than dogs! We are certainly servants to Don and Tivi (shown).

Coffee or tea?

In the South, there’s only sweet tea!

What fashion trend do you think should make a comeback?

Swatch watch.

How did you make your first dollar?

I grew up on a 47-acre apple orchard in Western Kentucky and that’s where I received my first paycheck. I did everything from picking apples, packaging them for shipping, and selling apples as well as making apple cider.

Go-to karaoke song

“Bennie and The Jets,” by Elton John.

First album you ever bought

“1999” by Prince.

Cocktail of choice

Chocolate martini. A girl has to have her chocolate!

Your hidden talent

I’m a pretty competitive gingerbread house builder.

If you weren’t working in healthcare, you’d be … A landscape architect. I have not put in the landscaping at our new home yet because I keep changing the design I want.


Favorite …

Quote “Use your brains, not your back.”—My father-in-law. Smart man!

Movie character 007. Always easy on the eyes.

Show to binge watch “Outlander.” I love period pieces.

Weekend activity Going to the butcher shop to get some great meat to smoke on the Green Egg.

Band/musical artist Earth, Wind & Fire. My husband introduced them to me and I love that connection for us.

Guilty pleasure My mom’s chocolate pie. It’s my childhood favorite.

Snack when you travel Funyuns. They’re our family tradition for road trips

Sport Soccer. Both of our children played throughout school and we became fans.

Team Kentucky Wildcats.

Book “Gardner’s Art Through the Ages.”

City to visit  New Orleans. There’s nowhere else in the world where you can truly get Cajun food and great live jazz music.