Director of marketing and physician recruitment with Florida Digestive Health Specialists
Right out of the gate, Laura Castro’s mentor took a chance on her.
After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism and communications, Castro dove headfirst into health care marketing when her mentor, Kim Rose, offered her the opportunity to work on a crisis communications task force at UF Health.
“I loved the people there,” she says. “With it being a big health care organization, I was thrown into the deep end. But, it’s good to push yourself.”
Castro wasn’t alone in navigating the job. Rose was there every step of the way to guide Castro through learning new skills and understanding the industry.
That’s something that’s helped in Castro’s career past that first position. Now, she’s director of marketing and physician recruitment with Florida Digestive Health Specialists, where she’s worked for two years. When she first started, she says the hardest part was learning new skills and shifting her focus. But with Rose’s mentorship, Castro navigated that aspect well.
In the 10 years leading up to Castro joining the practice, FDHS didn’t have a marketing initiative in place. “There wasn’t anyone in my position before,” she says. “I needed to get the word out about this organization.”
So she revamped the organization’s brand and broadened the exposure it was getting to TV, print and digital media. That was the main focus for the first year. Since then, she has worked to expand on that by building up the organization’s audience, instilling the core message, advancing acquisitions and building the brand out. She’s also in charge of recruiting physicians to the organization, having brought on 10 doctors in two years.
Castro stays modest when discussing her career, as she doesn’t view her career in accomplishments. But she’s always looking to achieve the next goal — which she does, she says, by showing up for work and trying to deliver something good into the world. “Right now, I’m working to bring doctors into parts of the community that need care,” she says.
As she comes up with the marketing to attract doctors to the organization, Castro also has a direct view into the impact FDHS has on the community. “I can see the impact of what this organization is doing,” says Castro. “It’s really neat to be able to see that.”
Name: Laura Castro
City of Residence: Sarasota
Employer: Florida Digestive Health Specialists
Title: Director of Marketing and Physician Recruitment
Birthplace: New Jersey
Years in the area: Just over four years as a "professional" here, but I grew up in the area from the age of two.
Marital Status/Children: Married
Alma Mater/Degree: University of Florida/Bachelor of Science
What community group or organization are you most involved with? JFCS of the Suncoast
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? I was a professional violist in middle school and high school.
What's your top tip for being productive? Finish what you start! My most productive days are when I focus on one task at a time and refuse to get distracted until the assignment is complete. With the constant barrage of emails and phone calls, this can be difficult but highly effective when executed properly. Don’t worry, I always go back to emails and calls between completed tasks.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? My side hustle could never be anything related to my day-to-day job – sometimes it’s good to use other parts of your brain! I would probably play classical viola, as part of a duet or trio, at weddings, engagements and other events.
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Anything in nature with my husband and puppy. We love weekend adventures to state parks, preserves and springs.
Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Yes! We saw Godzilla vs. Kong. My husband loved it ;-)
What's the top item on your bucket list? Short-term: Scuba-diving. Long-term: I’d love to live for an extended time in another country.
What's your favorite podcast? Where should we begin with Esther Perel – it’s literally other people’s therapy sessions and it’s absolutely fascinating.
Where is your happy place? I love Florida's natural springs. Recent favorites are Weeki Wachee and Rainbow Springs.
Describe yourself in three words: Tenacious, motivated, adventurous
Who is your mentor for your career and why? My mentor is Kim Rose, the director of strategic communications at UF Health when I worked there. Kim took a leap of faith hiring me right out of college and taught me an immense amount about communications, leadership and navigating the corporate world.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? I joined the crisis communications task force at UF Health with Kim and worked beside her in high-pressure situations. Whether during a hurricane, dealing with a sink hole near the hospital (UF Health is in central Florida, mind you) or navigating another scenario, Kim always flawlessly performed. She taught me to communicate quickly with executive leadership and craft effective messaging accordingly. Knowing I’ve been in tough situations and can handle whatever comes my way is invaluable. Most recently, these skills came in handy when COVID rocked the healthcare world.
Kim is highly respected and recognized in one of the top academic healthcare organizations in the country, while also universally loved. She is incredibly kind but can hold her own with any C-suite executive. This isn’t an easy balance to strike, and many professionals often feel obliged to mask their own personality to get to the top. Kim showed me that the best leaders stay true to themselves, help others, dispel competitiveness and work ridiculously hard daily.
Kim continues to be an instrumental resource to me, and to this day I think, “what would Kim Rose do?”