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Employee Spotlight: Linda Boykin, Clinical Manager, Healthy Connections

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting our caregivers, the diversity they bring and the difference they make at UT Health East Texas.

Working in healthcare has been a calling for as long as Linda Boykin can remember. 

Boykin, BSN, RN, CCRN, CPAN, CAPA, the clinical manager for Healthy Connections at UT Health Tyler, got her start as a teenager volunteering as a candy striper in the nursery of a Los Angeles, Calif., hospital in the late 1970s.

“I loved working in the newborn nursery, not knowing those tiny fingers and toes would draw me into what now has become 40 years as a nurse,” she said. “It stuck with me. My only goal in life was to be a nurse.”

She was in the occupational health program in high school, earning the qualifications for a certified nursing assistant before graduation, and went on to become licensed vocational nurse and then registered nurse after she graduated. She worked in labor and delivery, the burn unit, intensive care unit, post-anesthesia care unit and pre-op areas at different hospitals throughout her career and is most proud of obtaining certification in every specialty area in which she worked.

She credits her mother, Geralyn Sloan, to inspiring her drive to educate herself and keep learning. “Me being her third child at 18 years old, who herself earned a bachelor’s degree in education with small five children, kept me saying, ‘If she could do it, so can I,’” Boykin said.

“No matter the obstacles, I kept that in my mind.”

Despite her extensive education and training, Boykin said the best knowledge she has been able to pass on to her patients is through her own experience as a patient herself. Diagnosed at 23 with systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing widespread inflammation and tissue damage in the affected organs, Boykin was on kidney dialysis for years before she eventually received a kidney transplant.

“My patients couldn’t believe I was on dialysis,” Boykin said. “I’d tell them, ‘Don’t let your illness define you. You do the best you can and move on. Don’t look in the future, deal with now.’”

As manager of Healthy Connections, Boykin and her team make sure patients are fit to undergo scheduled surgeries.

“I always say I won’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do. I see patients; I draw blood; I do EKGs. Whatever they’re doing, I’m doing,” Boykin said. “It’s a team effort and you have to lead by example. I do that every day. It’s something I’ve done throughout my career and I think it’s because I started at rock bottom.

“I appreciate every day here,” she added. “I love this team.”