News & Events

Celebrating Jen Castonguay - Women in Leadership

Date: 03/27/2023

We have some amazing women in leadership at Northern Light Health, and we have enjoyed featuring them during Women’s History Month

Meet Jen Castonguay, director of Imaging and Respiratory Services at Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield. She started as a radiographer with Eastern Maine Medical Center 27 years ago and has spent the last 23 years at Sebasticook Valley Hospital. 

Jen got into healthcare after job shadowing a few roles at Mayo Regional Hospital during her classes at Eastern Maine Community College. She leaned into healthcare and radiology almost immediately and aren’t we lucky for it?   

Jen is the epitome of dedication; she is laser focused on making the healthcare experience the best it can be for both patients and staff. Learn more about Jen in this interview. 

Who inspired you to be a leader?  
Linda Cregnole, a former colleague at Sebasticook Valley Hospital. She hired me as a staff radiographer many years ago and saw leadership qualities in me that I hadn’t discovered yet. She helped me discover my healthcare career path and slowly gave me more responsibilities to help me grow. Linda passed away in 2021, but she is always going to be someone I remember and respect for her kindness and how she guided me and took a chance on me.  

When you began your career, did you know you wanted to be a leader? 
I did not, I was very shy and never thought I could ever lead a team in any type of discussion. If you know me, you know that is a far cry from who I am now! It is important for all at the leadership table to be confident in their knowledge, make their voice be heard, and work within the team for a common goal.  

What do you enjoy most about leading others?  
Seeing my teams troubleshoot and resolve issues using the tools we have provided to them. I love seeing them succeed in their mission to provide the best care possible.

How did you navigate power structures early in your career versus later?  
Early in my career I was still developing confidence in communication and learning effective ways of communicating with all levels, so I often avoided it. Now I am much more confident and have attended several conferences on communication. I think the most effective thing I learned is to take the time to identify the other person’s communication style and how it interacts with mine. I am quick to problem solve, and I often have to remind myself to slow down, ask more questions, actively listen, and not jump to conclusions when navigating these situations. I still work on this constantly.  

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?  
I think others believing in me and my skill has helped me be more confident, and with confidence comes resiliency. I am passionate about the things I believe in and used to apologize for that passion when it made others uncomfortable. All the leaders in my career have encouraged my passion and that has improved my confidence and resiliency.  

What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?  
I try very hard to leave work at work when I leave for the day. Sometimes it’s unavoidable of course because we are in healthcare! And it’s not always easy to shut off my work mind when I’m home, but I can do it. That helps me take care of myself and my family. We spend time together at our camp in Greenville Junction, where we enjoy snowshoeing, fishing, kayaking, and chasing our yellow lab, Marvel. We explore the area to take in the beautiful scenery and love it when we catch some wildlife – like the time we saw a huge moose swimming in the same area we were kayaking.  

I also am blessed with an excellent team at Sebasticook Valley Hospital, with each team member empowered to make decisions on their own. They know I will support them when they show why they took a certain path to get to an answer or solution. If it needs adjusting, we will do it together the next time.  

What advice do you have for the next generation of female healthcare leaders?  
Learn how to develop your confidence, read more, attend seminars, get a mentor, pick your battles, and don’t sweat the small stuff. It is good advice for work and outside work. Show whatever team you’re leading respect, and you will be respected. Learn the specifics of their job (if you can’t already do it) and know what they are expected to do on a daily basis to be able to support them.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?  
It is a celebration of those who knew what they wanted in life and went for it. For some, it wasn’t easy. I respect that and acknowledge that I have been very fortunate to avoid some of the struggles on my leadership path or within my career – thanks to other women paving the way!