CPHHS alum and Instructor Nancy Seifert began working at Oregon State in 2008 after holding several jobs in healthcare administration. She served as a contract consultant and CEO for Quality Care Associates Inc. and a trainer at Linn-Benton Economic Development and Training, among other positions. She earned a master’s degree in Management, Information Systems at Troy State University in Troy, Ala., and a PhD in Public Health, Healthcare Administration in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
What made you decide to get into this field? Is there one specific moment that inspired your career path?
“When John and I returned to Oregon to begin his private practice, I enthusiastically agreed to be his administrator. Because I had a master’s degree in business management, I thought this would be a piece of cake. However, once entrenched in the differences of health versus business, it was obvious I needed additional training. OSU offered an ‘Information Systems’ class in healthcare, and I readily registered. I was ‘bitten,’ as this class turned on a light that I knew I had to follow. I was originally trained as a business teacher from OSU and enjoyed teaching at the high school level and later college. I guess I’ve always held this passion for teaching. The caliber of student I’m seeing today is what inspires me.”
Why did you choose to work at Oregon State?
“Along with my duties of running my husband’s practice, I was working as first an executive director and later the CEO of an independent physicians association for Linn and Benton counties. While I enjoyed the work, I watched as the healthcare system began to transform itself. I wanted to be a part of the process. My previous desire to teach became much stronger. I wanted to return to my true passion of helping students achieve their goals. Dr. Marie Harvey approached me with a wonderful opportunity to do just that. I was thrilled to be considered and jumped at the chance to do what truly feeds my soul.”
What is your favorite part about teaching/researching health management and policy?
“I am charged up by my interaction with the students and our outstanding faculty. I have the best of luck working with highly motivated and enthusiastic students. I love being able to share this enthusiasm with students and help guide them in achieving their goals of working in the healthcare system.”
What do you believe is your greatest accomplishment in the field?
“This may sound trite, but I believe my accomplishments are measured by the success of our students. I receive many emails and letters from previous students letting me know what they are doing and how they are making their education pay off. I get very happy reading about a new promotion, challenge or problem that was solved from a past grad. This is my sixth year at OSU, and just yesterday I received a phone call from a past student in New Mexico telling me about his new job and the new process improvement program he is implementing, as well as an e-mail from a student in South Carolina who is becoming certified in LEAN. This is what it is all about for me.”
How are you going to change people’s lives with your work?
“I hope to prepare students for a lifetime of continual learning. I work toward the goal of educating to the newest successful management methods and systems with the knowledge that things in medicine and health never stay static but change continually. If I can impart this desire to stay current and keep learning, I believe success will follow our students.”
What is the best advice you ever received, and who gave it?
“I have been given many pearls of advice over the years, from my parents who stressed the importance of being able do good work, to my students who advise me to continue to do what I do, to administrators in the field who caution the importance of being able to change – and to like the change process.”
What advice would you like to give to students and young alums?
“I sound like an old record in that I mention many times in my classes to read the new literature, embrace the concept of continual change, and to most of all keep a light heart in this difficult and demanding world of healthcare administration. Administrators are surrounded by a system that deals with life’s problems, and it is vitally important to have activities outside the work environment to keep a healthy perspective.”
What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?
“John and I lived in Italy for a number of years. I loved the experience, as we were able to see much of Europe, though we didn’t save a dime during this time. The Italian people taught me to look at life a bit slower and to not take everything so seriously. Sometimes all it takes is a great plate of pasta and a cheap glass of wine.”
What are your favorite activities to do outside of work?
“I relish the opportunity to golf with my husband and son, though I’m continually making them look good as ‘duffer’ doesn’t begin to demonstrate my low skill level. I love to walk the trails in Bend, read biographies and mysteries and spend time with my family as I’m blessed to still have my parents living close by.”