Who's Who of Professional Women

MARY LOU WALEN

Mary Lou Walen entered the field of bariatric medicine in 1987, receiving on-the-job training from the surgeon she worked for. She trained by studying patient histories as well as following the surgeon on hospital rounds. Primarily in a managerial role rather than a surgical one, Ms. Walen ran the entire office until the surgeon sold his practice to two other doctors. In 1992, she joined the Pacific Bariatric Surgical Medical Group as a program director, where she spent the next decade. She subsequently served as the acting program director for the bariatric surgery program at Lenox Hill Hospital from 2006 to 2008 and in the business sales department of the Institute for Surgical Excellence from 2007 to 2009.

Since 2009, Ms. Walen has been the chief executive officer and owner of Walen Assoc, Inc., where she offers education programs and specialty communication for patients and health care professionals. Furthermore, she is the executive director and founder of the New York state chapter of the American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery (ASBMS). A senior member of ASBMS, she has also spent time as the society’s chair, the second chair of the integrated health section, and was president from 1996 to 1999. Attributing much of her success to the high caliber of people around her, Ms. Walen considers the most gratifying aspect of her career to be understanding care needs and communicating those needs to the people in charge of decision-making.

Ms. Walen is a staunch advocate for patient rights and education, a mindset she brings to both her direct work with patients and to training for nurses and doctors. It is vital, she notes, that the people who are on the front line of patient care be properly trained and educated. At Walen Assoc Inc., they set aside time twice a week to go over policies, procedures, patient education material, and anything else that might be needed. As she looks toward the future, Ms. Walen hopes to invigorate her business through establishing a new online platform.

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