Surgical Tech Encourages Because Others Encouraged Her

Mollye Banks was in Middle School faced with the angst that many teenagers face – wondering, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” She could hear her mother’s words playing over in her head as she attended a Junior Achievement Career Fair.

Sylvia Keys frequently told her four children: “The key to success is education. You never stop evolving. When you want more, strive to get more.” A nurse who worked at a Louisville Hospital, Keys was big on education. Banks raised her two sons with the same philosophy and it has served them well. One is a hotel chef and the other is completing his master’s degree.

Born and raised in Kentucky, Banks says that experience at the career fair set the course for her future. She combined her mother’s words of wisdom with a medical path that brought her to IU Health where she works as a supervisor in sterile processing. She recently returned to the Junior Achievement event as a hospital volunteer to share her career experiences with other eighth graders.

“It’s like coming full circle. The bright eyes full of promise taking it all in,” said Banks. “I remember how I felt at that age and when one little girl said, ‘I could never do this,’ I told her ‘you can do anything you want to do.’”

When the girl still expressed doubt, Banks told her about the first time she helped deliver a baby in the operating room. “I put that new life on his momma’s belly and I knew then and there I was in the right profession.” After she finished the story, the young student left the room but she ran back before she left the career fair for the day. She asked Banks more questions.

“I felt good because I knew I had touched at least one young life,” said Banks.

She practices that same philosophy with her coworkers – encouraging them to excel in their careers and be the best they can be at their jobs.

“I try to promote education. If someone wants to do some in-service training, or take their career to another level, I’m right behind them,” said Banks, who is also an instructor for the hospital’s sterile processing certification program.  She relates how one of her co-workers obtained her nursing degree and an environmental services employee is now working as a surgery technician. It’s rewarding to get hugs and ‘thanks’ and to know that I had a tiny part in helping them find their way,” said Banks, 54.

Much of that encouragement comes from Banks’ heart – learned through life experiences.

“Being a single mom was hard. I started out on welfare while I was going to school. I got hired as a student and once I got my first pay check, I found an apartment, got off welfare, and tried to provide the best life I could for my boys.”

She completed her training at Jefferson Community College in 1991 and in 1999 she moved to Indianapolis to give her youngest son a fresh start. “He was struggling with mental issues and didn’t have many friends. He was treated at Riley Hospital,” said Banks. She started working at Riley and eventually transferred to University Hospital.

“It’s been a blessing at IU Health. I’ve had so many opportunities here,” said Banks. “I tell the kids that taking care of patients is the best job ever. I’ve always been a caregiver but I just didn’t know how to make that a career. Now I know, and I love being part of making a difference in someone’s life. The satisfaction is something you can’t explain. It changes my life.”

— By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email at 
T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.