Jill Fuller, Retired President/CEO, Prairie Lakes Healthcare System
Aug 28, 2018 06:00AM
● By Alyssa McGinnis
This summer, KC DeBoer succeeded Jill Fuller as President and CEO of Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown. In a recent interview with MED, Fuller, who started her PLHS career 18 year’s ago as Chief Nursing Officer, reflected on her 8 years in office and shared some words of wisdom for successfully guiding a healthcare organization.
MED: You are a couple of years shy of retirement age. How did you decide that now was the right time to leave?
JF: I had originally planned to wait until 2020. But we were going to have five board members term out and it seemed like now was a good time for our organization to make a transition. We just achieved this great milestone of building a new specialty clinic. I had a defined period of growth. It is a good time for the next person to come in and say what’s the next body of growth?
MED: What is one accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?
JF: The development of new services lines. When I joined the organization as CNO in 2000, we only had oncology. My predecessor added cardiology in 2007 and we developed eight more since I became CEO in 2009. We also moved to an employment model for those specialty doctors. We truly filled a lot of important gaps.
MED: Can you share some nugget of wisdom you have learned during your 40 years in healthcare?
JF: In healthcare, we ride waves. We have ups and downs. You have to be able to survive those waves, even when it is challenging. You have to remember that this, too, will pass. The world doesn’t come to an end, even with the pressures of reimbursement, etc. We all know, at the end of the day, we need to provide services.
MED: What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning his or her administrative journey in healthcare?
JF: I think it is important to really learn the culture of your organization. That can be hard for people because they tend to want to make changes right away. In our case, our culture is very unique and we have been successful because of it. You need to listen and learn, which is going to help you build your relationships. When you understand the context you don’t try to apply cookie cutter solutions.
MED: I understand you are moving to your cabin in North Dakota. What is next for you?
JF: I am not yet done with my working career. I want to go back to my patient care roots. I still have an RN license and I have enrolled in a refresher course in North Dakota. I have a great big book that’s been sitting on my desk, intimidating me. Eventually, I might end up going back into academics.
MED: What are you going to miss most when you leave?
JF: The phenomenal people I work with and the community of Watertown. I guess I am going to have to get a Facebook account!