Q&A with 2022 CLEAR Awards Recipient Renee D. Atherton

Posted By: Ashley Peterson CLEAR News,

Renee D. Atherton

CLEAR is pleased to present a conversation with Renee D. Atheron, the recipient of the 2022 CLEAR Regulatory Excellence Award for Investigative Excellence. Ms. Atherton serves as a Clinical Cooridnator/Invetsigator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services. The CLEAR Regulatory Excellence Award for Investigative Excellence recognizes exceptional performance by a regulatory investigator or inspector in a particular case. Atherton was chosen to receive this award for her dedicated work on a tragic medical incident where her investigation revealed deficiencies in training and competencies, lack of communication and interagency compatibility when handling urgent incidents.

We are excited to have learned more about Atherton's experience with CLEAR and encourage any members that are interested in nominating a colleague for the upcoming 2023 CLEAR awards cycle to do so. We are accepting nominations until May 19th, learn more here.

What does winning the CLEAR Regulatory Excellence Award for Investigative Excellence mean to you? 

Winning the CLEAR Regulatory Excellence Award was an honorary moment of validation for hard work that achieves widespread system improvements that is often misunderstood.  Sometimes as a regulator, we are seen as an obstacle to “getting things done” when in fact we peel away the layers that hide areas of improvement that otherwise would go unnoticed.  It is an honor to have received this award and will always be a proud moment for the Massachusetts compliance team.  

Tell us about some of the projects you have been working on or any significant career developments that you have had since winning your award. 

Winning this award did not change my work, but certainly it is a reminder of how important it is.To be able to represent the complainant, listen to their concerns, and get to the root problem in a world that seems to have increasing challenges, with staff shortages, supply issues, and exhausted employees is a privilege. Receiving this award reminds me every day of the importance of doing the right thing even when the right thing is difficult. 


What are some of the greatest benefits you have experienced as a CLEAR member? 

Hands down I have to say the training opportunities.  I have taken the both the basic and advanced investigator training and use those skills every day.  I have also passed some of those “tricks of the trade” to up coming investigators in my team to help them become well rounded investigators. 


What trends or future regulatory developments are you excited to see in your industry? 

Although not a new development, compliance in emergency medical services (EMS) is increasing its focus on systemic improvements and identifying areas where the healthcare system can better work with each other for the good of patients. Our focus is on delivering high quality medical care to ALL patients through recognition of the diverse population in our communities, acknowledgement of unique medical needs and finding innovative ways to provide quality care beginning in the emergency field.  


What have been some of your biggest takeaways from CLEAR’s Annual Educational Conferences?

The Annual Conference is a great opportunity to gain perspective on what other folks of similar background and systems are going through.  It is an opportunity to learn we are not so different from each other in what we encounter and our approach to solve issues.  The conference is a great forum for networking with others, and through conversation adding “tools to the investigator tool box”   The conference is also a good reminder that investigator work does not have to be punitive but rather simply a method of improving systems through identification of systemic issues that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. 

Learn more about the 2023 CLEAR Awards and how you can nominate a colleague here.

Special thanks to Ms. Atherton for taking the time to contribute as a guest blogger.