Dr. Audrey Frison retires after 40 years of serving Veterans
As a coal miner’s daughter, Audrey Frison grew up in in the hills of Appalachia, in the small town of Benham, Kentucky. She attended Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky for her undergrad in nursing.
“I decided to become a nurse because my mother wanted to be a nurse. She was never able to aspire to be a nurse, but my older sister is a nurse, and I decided to follow in her footsteps”, said Frison.
Frison started as nurse in the private sector during one of the first severe nursing shortages.
“I felt as though that the administration wasn't listening to the staff, and I said, you know, I needed to be a part of the change. I need to sit at the table where the decisions are being made”, said Frison.
And Frison did just that. She decided to go back to school to obtain her master’s degree in Hospital and Health Administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1983, she landed an internship at the VA located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
After a yearlong session and completing her thesis on ambulatory surgery, she went on to become a health system specialist (HSS) trainee at the VA in Indianapolis, Indiana.
She completed her intensive HSS training and started her first position as the HRO DRG Coordinator at the Dayton, Ohio VA.
“I was in that position for about 4 years and then came to Marion, Indiana because my husband took a new position.”
VA Northern Indiana Health Care System (VANIHCS) is where Frison would flourish in her career and dedicate herself to her staff and Veteran care.
Over the years, Frison has held a plethora position, just some of those positions include Veteran enrollment, HSS to the Director, acting chief of Food and Nutrition, acting chief of Respiratory Care, and acting chief Environmental Management.
In 1997, she was selected as VANIHCS Assistant Director of Patient Care Services which she has held for 26 years.
“At the time, we did not have a nurse executive position at the Fort Wayne campus, my boss at the time asked me to stand-in because we were in the midst of the Marion and Fort Wayne merger, going through a lot of changes. I decided to be a part of the solution and made the decision to competitively apply, and I was selected.
Dr. Frison has been leading the way since 1983. Throughout the constant changes of the health care, leaders, and employees one thing has remained the same and that is Dr. Frison’s compassion and commitment to her employees and Veterans.
After decades of incredible service, Dr. Frison has decided to retire and start a new venture.
“I would like to volunteer in the school system. I would like to work with young students to help them learn how to read.”
Dr. Frison says she will miss camaraderie, employees and taking care of the Veterans.
“It's been an honor for me. I would have never dreamed when I started in the VA, January 3rd, 1983, this is where I would be, I've been very fortunate to work with really great leaders and staff.”
Dr. Frison has dedicated 40 years of her life serving Veterans. She may be leaving but her infinite positive contributions to VANIHCS will remain.
Some people live a lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world. Dr. Frison doesn’t have that problem.