Janine Sawaya Eggers, MHA, RN, saw her career take a similar turn in the 1990s, after more than 20 years of hospital floor and nurse management experience in Las Vegas.In 1995, she was appointed director of operations for a medical group run by Sierra Health Services, the city's predominant health plan.
In 1997, she
moved to Humana Inc.
and served in a variety of high-ranking positions, ending up as CEO of Humana's Hospitalist Company
, effectively monitoring all inpatient care for Humana's
members.In May, Health Net hired her
as vice president of medical affairs operations.Eggers
is responsible for identifying best practices to improve outcomes and the integration of a medical management program into all of Health Net's plans.
"I had been on the administrative side of nursing for a long time and had been looking for something different from a hospital setting," said Eggers
, winner of the American Nurses Association
1998 "Search for Excellence" award."The HMO arena gave me that opportunity."
That health plans such as Kaiser and Health Net have created such significant executive positions for nurses is part of a sea change for nursing leadership.No longer confined to overseeing the floor of a single hospital, nurse executives have had their career spheres expanded to far more responsibility and influence.
Industry observers say nurse leaders are moving into positions they could not have dreamed of just a decade ago, taking on responsibilities that match or exceed that of a hospital's chief financial officer or chief operating officer.
, for example, found herself trying to stem the tide of discontent from 200 nurses pushing for unionization in 1982.
"Your ability to stand up in front of these critical care nurses who want to walk is sorely tested," she
said."I weathered that storm because I had knowledge of the field."
believes the voice of nurses is simply too whiny.
"Nurses have a particular image, as well as the female issue, and when you get somebody who gets in front of the press, they don't do the best things in terms of promoting nursing," Eggers
said."That image is partly our fault, and I think that's why you're seeing the shortages we're seeing and the lack of enrollment in [nursing] schools."
"The nurse executive can take it anywhere," Eggers
can be a business leader, build hospitals and still retain that nursing expertise."
Contact Ron Shinkman at email@example.com