Healthcare professional fulfills lifelong dream

DBA graduate Nicole Godlock
Tuesday, May 7, 2024
Completion of DBA connects the dots

As early as elementary school, Nicole Godlock imagined herself as a neurosurgeon.

"I was always saying that I wanted to be in healthcare, and even at that time I said that I wanted to be a brain surgeon," Godlock recalled. "I think that idea came from how I really wanted to help people. That's what healthcare is about, from my perspective."

Her original life plan shifted during her early college years at Emory University, when she embarked on a new career path. Godlock became increasingly interested in the business aspects of healthcare and decided to rigorously prepare and dedicate herself to improving tools and processes that healthcare industry needs to better serve patients and health professionals, particularly through technology.

Now, as she earns her Doctorate of Business Administration degree from UNC Charlotte and with a master’s of science degree in data science and business analytics, also from Charlotte, Godlock is fulfilling her mission. Her studies, her interactions with faculty and fellow students in her DBA cohort and the research she has conducted have all created critical connections.

"Because I've always worked in technology aspects of healthcare, it’s very beneficial to me to understand how the technology that I've built directly impacts the patient," said Godlock, a director in Cardinal Health’s WaveMark project management office.

"While I hear this is the case, and while I know it is the case, to actually complete my research with data that shows that technology developments in healthcare actually affect patient outcomes is definitely beneficial to the healthcare industry," she said. "The DBA program has been able to connect a lot of dots for me."

Researching digital health tools

Godlock’s research has considered how digital health technology adoption can address health disparities and improve patient outcomes. Her dissertation also looked at factors that affect the use of digital health technologies.

"So now I have come full circle," she said. "Through my doctoral degree, I can contribute to the healthcare industry and to improving patients’ outcomes and patients’ lives from all of the knowledge and expertise I've been able to gain through the program and through my work experience."

An interdisciplinary faculty team chaired by Reginald Silver, associate dean for graduate and executive programs with the Belk College, guided her studies. "Dr. Silver has been instrumental," she said. "I was very inspired early on by his healthcare industry experience, and how that also transferred over to academia and even to this program."

Members of her cohort, who progressed through the program together, have kept each other motivated. "It's become kind of like a family," she said. "To be honest, we've all struggled through the program together and held each other accountable, and kept encouraging and pushing each other."

In addition to Silver, she particularly calls out fellow student and study partner Tyler Coker, MHR, SHRM-CP and dissertation committee members Chandra Subramaniam, Chandrika Johnson and Laura Stanley for continuous guidance and encouragement.

While Godlock was in the final crunch time with the program, she moved into a new, higher-level position at work. "That was right before I had to defend my proposal for my dissertation, and just a few months before my dissertation final defense," she said. "The last six months or so have been very demanding, trying to get acclimated to my new role at Cardinal Health and then still completing the DBA program."

Finding balance

She found herself balancing work, classes and home life, with the support of those around her, especially her family.

"At home I have three children and a spouse," she said. "My husband's been very supportive. I could not have completed this journey without his support. My parents have also been very supportive, helping with the kids and other responsibilities when I've had to focus a lot of my time on school. It's definitely a village effort. It's definitely not something that I've done by myself."

She looks forward to the next few months, when she will have time to help her daughter transition to college, and to travel with her family and reconnect with activities, including hiking and ice skating.

Godlock is the first person in her immediate and extended family to complete a doctoral degree. She especially hopes that she inspires her children.

"My daughter, my oldest, is a senior in high school," she said. "She's graduating high school, and I'm graduating the doctorate program at the same time. We've inspired each other in that aspect. My younger two are boys, and they are in kindergarten and seventh grade. They've seen me work hard. I don't know if my kindergartner fully understands it yet, but I hope both of my sons have the same resilience and dedication to pursue whatever goals in life they choose to pursue.

Family offers inspiration

Godlock draws inspiration from her family, especially her husband, her children, her parents and her brother, who she describes as a trailblazing entrepreneur.

"My parents have always worked really hard and been supportive of me," she said. "I am inspired by them, and the support that they've given me and the foundation they laid for me. From a personal perspective, my degree definitely fulfills a goal I have had for a long time. To be able to say that I've seen this through regardless of any obstacles that have come into play, definitely is very fulfilling for me."

From a professional standpoint, the doctorate opens up more opportunities, as she now will be recognized as an expert with extensive credentials, if she was not before.

"I often collaborate with executives at hospitals and with clinicians to define their technology strategy and achieve their organizational goals because that's the line of work that I do," she said. "Being able to further establish myself as an expert now and have the data and the research that I've done to support my knowledge, will be helpful in making connections with the people I work with."

Naturally this will include any brain surgeons she may encounter along the way.