CDM of the Month

Sharon Sheppard


Name: Sharon Sheppard, CDM, CFPP

Job Title: Patient Services Manager/AFS Manager

Employer: Northwestern Medicine/Holy Family Villa

Job Location: Chicago, IL

Years at Current Facility: 1 year 9 months/3 years

Years in Current Position: 1 year 9 months/3 years

CDM Since: 2014

Why did you decide to become a CDM?

I decided to make the conversion from production cook to management. I felt like when I was cooking, I had maxed my potential there. I felt like there were other things that I needed to know, and management was the next level up.

What are your main responsibilities in your current position?

At Northwestern, my main responsibilities include scheduling, patient visitation, and service recovery.

How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?

I tackle small portions of them at a time at a day. I start out in the morning checking allergies and things like that. I take everything in sections.

What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?

Here at Northwestern we just went through the conversion from a cook/chill to a cook/serve system. That was a huge project, actually the biggest project I’ve been a part of in my career. We have over 500 beds and we were using the cook/chill system. We had construction going on in the kitchen while we were still working. We worked until the new system was here and it was totally different. Now it’s a whole different system. It was a challenge. A lot went into the change, such as work flow, scheduling changes, and we even had to restructure job descriptions.

What was your first job in the foodservice industry?

I was a cook at McDonalds.

Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?

Janet Sainsbury, Food Service Director at Holy Family Villa. She motivated and trained me in all areas. While studying for my exam, she gave me material she felt would help me. She has always been very supportive of all my decisions that I have made. Thanks so much to Janet Sainsbury.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?

Staffing is always a big challenge, especially availability of staff. Creating the schedule is also difficult. I have a huge schedule. In one day we have 36 catering associates and an additional sanitation section with 10 people, and this doesn’t even include the production team in the kitchen. It’s a large group and I have to create their schedule.

What is your favorite part of your job?

At Northwestern, it is fulfilling the needs of the patients. At Holy Family Villa, it is when we have care plan conferences and the residents are satisfied with their meals

How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?

I research on the internet and read Nutrition & Foodservice Edge magazine. I also attend seminars.

How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years?

Technology will elevate the foodservice industry and consumer expectations will drive restaurants and hospitals to meet different needs with different styles of service. Menu offerings will change and the needs of the patients will move in a different direction.

What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?

If you plan to stay in the industry further your education by picking a direction that you want to go in. Don’t just stay at one level. There is so much you can learn and so much you can do in food service. I always try to encourage people.