Minta Jane Ferguson, ACHA, AIA, NCARB, CDT, LEED AP
Director of Planning
Charlotte, NCHow has ACHA certification enhanced your career in healthcare architecture and/or design?
You could align it with the saying "It is not what you know, it is who you know". ACHA certification has opened so many doors for me within a network of incredibly knowledgeable and talented individuals. I have found community within ACHA and have secured connections with ACHE professionals.
What would you say to anyone interested in the field?
- Embrace challenges & be resilient
- Think outside the box
- Never stop learning
- Money makes the world go-round
Healthcare is highly regulated and politically charged which makes for a dynamic and complex set of problems to solve on a daily basis. Solutions to the problems are increasingly innovative, creative, and drifting in the direction of uncharted waters; however, we must accept that the tried and true simple solutions have their place and time. If you stop learning, you become irrelevant. Even though we are ultimately embracing humanity in healthcare design, its not possible without money. You have to make money to spend money, and it is a delicate balance between the two.
What led you to becoming ACHA certified?
The honest truth is I decided to get ACHA certified as a product of our society and the expectations we have set. I am a woman who has worked through a "man's world" as a relatively young female leader within my organization and among my clients. I have lived through the "you are too young", "you don't have enough gray hair", and the "wait, you aren't a 'design girl'?" judgements. Being ACHA certified is an indirect way of communicating that this isn't my first rodeo. It is an immediate confidence builder among peers and clients. I should not forget to mention, I have a few mentors who have received theirs and I looked to them for inspiration and encouragement.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you personally or your practice?
My resiliency and focus have been tested during the pandemic. I am navigating working from some days and working in the office others. Shifting gears and directions to manage existing work, new ideas, trends, and completely new planning around healthcare. I expect that we will become increasingly collaborative virtually, but it is difficult for me. I am a people-person and I like to be present with the team to collaborate. I need to see people, read body language, interact with drawings, materials, and ideas. The pandemic is testing my communication skills and styles and is forcing me to think about our facility solutions from a new angle, which in the long run should make for more flexible facilities.
Professional Bachelor of Architecture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
I am a Charlotte native (they call us unicorns) and returned to Charlotte after college. I wanted to be an architect at the age of 8 when I opted out of the science fair and instead read a book about how skyscrapers stand up and proceeded to make a scale model demonstrating the structural features, quickly followed by a report on the vernacular architecture of the south. I was also that weird kid that would sit in front of a building and draw what I thought the floor plan would be from what I perceived the elevation and site characteristics. Different experiences in various firms ultimately led me to facility planning and I have increasingly become a data nerd. I truly love the analytical side of planning and how it can shape and inform facilities. It is kind of like ductwork in a building; its not sexy and no one sees it, but it's necessary!
In my spare time I enjoy weight lifting, kayaking, refinishing furniture, and gardening. I have recently started a new habit of sketching, inspired by a former colleague. Some days I feel like I need to get back to the roots of the practice.
The strategic planning and consulting side of the industry doesn't really come with awards and recognition, it's the legwork that leads to the design. My impact to the community is assisting clients and communities by planning safe environments for healing that minimize passing high cost burdens onto patients. Managing expectations and setting the stage for facilities that are right sized, affordable, flexible, and in-line with the realities that healthcare is challenged with is not always easy and we often deliver the hard messages.