June 3, 2022

Donna Butler-Rawson always greets patients with a smile and reassurance — especially important in her role in the electroconvulsive therapy program

Butler-Rawson earns inaugural Patient and Family Choice Award for Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital

Donna Butler-Rawson poses for a portrait at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital Friday, April 22, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. Butler-Rawson is the VBH Patient and Family Choice Award Winner.

Donna Butler-Rawson. Photo by Erin O. Smith

Donna Butler-Rawson works daily to help diminish the stigma that can accompany mental health issues. Her compassionate approach as a registration specialist for Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital’s (VPH) electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) program has earned her an inaugural 2022 Patient and Family Choice Award.

The Patient and Family Choice award honors Vanderbilt staff who provide exceptional service to patients and their families. The awards are given by each of the three Patient and Family Advisory councils across VUMC. Only patients and family members can submit nominations — a fact Butler-Rawson does not take lightly. More than 1,600 nominations were submitted the first year.

“Receiving this award means so much to me,” she said. “While it is always wonderful to be recognized by your peers, being recognized by the patients and family members puts it into a different stratosphere. The patients are why we come to work every day, and the fact that they feel I am an excellent employee means that I am doing my job the way it is meant to be done.”

As the first face patients see when arriving to their ECT appointments, Butler-Rawson plays a significant role in the program. Her friendly face and soft-spoken nature immediately put patients at ease before and after their treatment.

“Donna always greets us with a smile and a sincere hello,” one nominator said. “She has been able to answer all of our questions or find the right person to answer those questions to ease our minds going forward with the treatment.”

Another nominator shared that Butler-Rawson’s care, support and compassion has made a positive difference for them and their family during a difficult time. “During my course of treatment, Donna has always been helpful when I have had trouble filling out forms and scheduling. The ECT treatments have allowed me to lead a more normal life, and Donna’s care has made a significant positive impact on me and my family,” the patient said.

“Donna always greets us with a smile and a sincere hello. She has been able to answer all of our questions or find the right person to answer those questions to ease our minds going forward with the treatment.”

Before joining Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, Butler-Rawson worked in the music industry, the hospitality industry and as a pre-K teacher before realizing she wanted a more consistent work environment. She sought out jobs at VUMC and began as a Health Information Specialist for VPH in 2008. After six years in that role, she was asked to work in VPH’S Neuromodulation Unit — which houses the ECT program — that opened in 2014. She has remained there since.

In her daily responsibilities, Butler-Rawson handles all things administration for ECT, scheduling appointments and consults, handling admissions and discharges, and working with Vanderbilt University Hospital and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to get inpatients to VPH for treatment.

“Being open to interaction is so important, especially in behavioral health,” Butler-Rawson said. “I do my best to treat our patients the way I would want my own family treated.”