So after graduating from high school in a small town outside of Chicago, Steed attended Rush University in the city and earned a bachelor's degree in nursing. All the while, she paid her own way by working a variety of jobs that included bill collecting, banking, insurance and a student nursing apprenticeship. It was during that time that Steed realized she didn't want to be a traditional nurse and would rather combine the business skills instilled by her entrepreneurial father with the aptitude for patient care inspired by her mother.
Though she went ahead and took a job as a nurse after graduating from nursing school, Steed was itching for something different; she just didn't know what it was. But barely a month into her new role, when she was selected to be the champion for her hospital's electronic health-record system, Steed says she had reached a turning point.
“That was a door opening for me,” she says. Steed credits being in the right place at the right time with positioning her to learn a new skill and a new field—clinical informatics. Once she did, her career path rapidly began to change.
Steed was first recruited to a consulting role at software developer Picis and then to consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she says she became bilingual in the business world and the clinical practice world. She would next take her fluency in those languages to Advocate Health Care, based in Chicago's western suburbs, when she began serving as Advocate's vice president of clinical operations.
As Steed was working in these roles, she was also pursuing her MBA, followed by a doctorate of education in ethical leadership. But it didn't end there. “Literally, my M.O. is working 100 hours a week and raising three children,” Steed says. She had her first son when she finished her undergrad degree, her daughter when she was getting her MBA, and her next son during her doctoral program.