2012 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Jan 1, 2012 3:00 PM
When Jill Fuller (Ph.D. 1991) arrived at Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown, SD, in 2003 to assume the position of chief nursing officer, the College of Nursing alumna had her work cut out for her: the hospital was experiencing a 65 percent nursing turnover rate on its medical-surgical unit.
Today, thanks to her strategic and innovative leadership focused on improving quality and empowering front line staff members, Fuller, who now serves as president and chief executive officer, has dramatically improved the level of morale among nurses. By giving nurses a greater sense of ownership in the health system’s bottom line, she has reduced Prairie Lakes’ average nursing turnover rate to just 10 percent.
“When I think about Dr. Fuller's career since her graduation from the University of Utah, one overarching thought comes to mind: as an administrator, she is a nurse's nurse,” says Maeona K. Kramer, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., who served on the faculty while Fuller was a student at the College of Nursing and has since followed her career in nursing administration. “Dr. Fuller has administered in a way that allows nurses to excel in their work of taking care of people effectively. To me, this is what we, as nurses—wherever we work—are all about.”
Despite the time and energy it takes to manage a complex health care system, Fuller has taught two graduate nursing courses at South Dakota State University, sharing her expertise in nursing administration, business and finance with nurse leaders of tomorrow. She also has published several journal articles about hospital work redesign aimed at reducing work intensity, returning nurses to the bedside, improving productivity and lowering cost as well as a health assessment textbook.
“I am honored to accept the distinguished alumni award,” says Fuller. “I have had a very productive and fulfilling career. There’s no doubt I was profoundly influenced and shaped by my educational experience and mentors at the University of Utah, who expected nothing less of us than to go out and change the world.”