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Honoring excellence in corporate counsel

Effective corporate counsel has never been more important than it is in today’s new economy.
Az Business magazine is recognizing the important and vital role that in-house counsel plays in the success of a business with the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards (ACC Awards). The 30 finalists and winners were honored Thursday, January 16 during a ceremony and dinner at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix. Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order:

Melissa M. Buhrig
Vice president, assistant general counsel and assistant secretary
Western Refining
Since 2005, Buhrig has served as a founding member of the Western Refining legal department. Her responsibilities include corporate governance, compliance, and securities matters for the company. Prior to joining Western Refining, Buhrig was a shareholder in Barfield Law, a Miami, Florida-based boutique firm representing commercial insurers and business leaders in corporate and litigation matters. Before that, she was a founding member of the satellite litigation department in the Naples, Florida office of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Cirsi, a national law firm.

Carolann Bullock
Human resources legal attorney
Intel Corporation
Bullock joined Intel in Chandlers as an HR legal attorney in 2010 following an extremely successful career in private practice. Bullock joined Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite in 1995 and was elected a shareholder in the firm just four years later. When she departed for Intel and the new challenge of an in-house legal role, she was chair of the firm’s well-respected Labor & Employment Practice Group. While in private practice, Bullock’s practice was devoted to counseling and defending employers faced with claims of sexual harassment, disability, gender, age, race, wrongful discharge and employment-related tort and contract claims.

Lawrence Cuculic
Vice president and general counsel
Best Western International, Inc.
Cuculic manages the legal department for Best Western, the largest hotel chain in the world, in a manner that is efficient, effective, and respectful. Cuculic is also actively involved in managing strategic direction, providing guidance on corporate legal issues, board and board committee matters and managing relationships with external counsel. Since his arrival at Best Western, Cuculic has been thrust into various complex litigation, including IP and antitrust class action matters. Through his guidance, Cuculic spearheaded legal victories for Best Western that resulted in a complete mitigation of damages.

Bob Desmond
Chief intellectual property counsel
Honeywell International, Inc. – Aerospace
Desmond is the chief IP counsel for Honeywell Aerospace, a $12 billion business unit of Honeywell International Inc. which has more than 7,000 employees in Arizona. Honeywell Aerospace’s Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer, summarized Desmond’s contributions to Honeywell Aerospace as follows: “Bob has developed a world-class intellectual property process within Honeywell Aerospace. He has not only refined and improved our intellectual property portfolio, but also created a sustainable process for refreshing its contents and ensuring the true business value of the IP is being properly realized. He has set the standard for Honeywell and the broader aerospace industry.”

Ruth Franklin
Corporate contracts counsel
ON Semiconductor
Franklin leads an international team of six member,s including both lawyers and contract professionals who are charged with negotiating semiconductor manufacturing sales agreements with customers throughout the world. These negotiations can span many months and typically involve describing every aspect of the manufacturing and supply processes within ON Semiconductor. Franklin is fond of saying that this is a job she is passionate about because it uses all the various areas of expertise that she has built up over her career: detailed lawyering, strategic planning and tactical negotiations.

GoDaddy in-house legal department
GoDaddy
GoDaddy’s legal team is led by General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Nima Kelly. GoDaddy’s 13-lawyer legal team counsels this rapidly-growing Internet company as it accomplishes its mission of empowering its customers to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures. GoDaddy currently serves more than 12 million paying customers worldwide with 4,300 employees working in 21 states and eight countries. Under Ms. Kelly’s leadership, GoDaddy’s legal department has been re-engineered to efficiently deliver high-quality legal advice at the pace needed to keep up with its business partners. Divided into Intellectual Property, M&A/International, Litigation/Employment, Agreements and Internet Policy functions, its lawyers work as a cohesive team and are encouraged to “roll up their sleeves,” become intimately involved with their clients’ day-to-day activities and help them accomplish their business goals. Issues range from the serious (patent litigation and international expansion) to the sublime (the Super Bowl ads and talent agreements with Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg and Ke$ha for the annual blowout Holiday Parties). The team also works to develop effective and responsible Internet policy for GoDaddy and the global online community.

Jill Harrison
In-house counsel
W.L. Gore & Associates Inc.
Harrison has served as one of the corporate counsel at Gore for nearly nine years. She leads the medical device manufacturer’s product liability litigation and counseling practice globally. For much of her tenure at Gore, Harrison also led strategic counseling and litigation in the area of non-competes and trade for Gore’s Medical Products Division and provided extensive employment law counseling and litigation management for sales associates in the division. Harrison also assumed a significant leadership role in developing and implementing an innovative integration program for new legal team members to effectively facilitate their participation in the company’s global legal team.

John T. Jozwick
Senior vice president and general counsel
Rider Levett Bucknall
Rider Levett Bucknall hired Jozwick by contract in 2002 for a temporary assignment analyzing claims made by subcontractors in a major wastewater treatment plant project. As word spread with clients about his expertise in analyzing construction disputes, forensic claims, and construction defects, Jozwick was offered a full-time role. Under his direction, the company’s claims department grew from one temporary contractor to five full-time employees. Jozwick also played a major role in developing advisory services into a significantly profitable service. Today, the advisory service line offers clients risk analysis, claims analysis, dispute resolution, expert witness and dispute avoidance services.

Alan Kelly, Scottsdale Lincoln Healthcare Network’s legal team
Senior vice president and general counsel
Scottsdale Lincoln Healthcare Network
Kelly has been an in-house lawyer at Scottsdale Lincoln Healthcare Network for the past nine years. By creating an efficient and modern legal department, Kelly has been able to provide advice to everyone from executives to operational employees. His continued innovation led him to improve the SLHN Risk Management Department so that it can effectively manage all of the complex risk that a $1 billion company is faced with. Kelly’s strong leadership is as highly valued as his skills as an innovator. Johnathan Wallach, one of Kelly’s employees, said, “Alan has been a true mentor who actively promotes initiative in all people who work for him.”

Margaret Koppen
Deputy general counsel
Standard Microsystems Corporation
Koppen is Standard Microsystems’ main transactional attorney. Kim Van Amburg, senior vice president and general counsel at Casino Del Sol Resort, said that during her 10 years at the company, Koppen has been able to hone a “specific expertise in negotiating terms of sale agreements with her employer’s customers,” some of which are the world’s largest semiconductor companies. Koppen has been instrumental in “increasing efficiency, production, and accountability without increasing the size of the legal department.” Her contributions to the company have helped double the company’s revenue. She teaches the University of Arizona College of Law’s first-ever contract drafting course, which she developed.

David Koval
Vice president and general counsel
Kitchell
Koval went to Kitchell in 2004 as an employee for one of the company’s subsidiaries, Kitchell Contractors. In this role, he brought credibility to the company through refining legal processes, streamlining and creating uniformity in subcontractor relationships and evaluating the company’s risk. His results earned the respect of everyone at Kitchell and he was eventually tapped by CEI Jim Swanson to oversee all legal activities for the 60-year-old company. Kitchell’s interests include real estate development, commercial construction, program and construction management and air conditioning wholesale supplies.

Erin Lewin
Senior vice president and general counsel
Avnet, Inc.
Lewin leads Avnet’s 98-member global legal department and provides advice and guidance to the company’s business leaders. “Erin has demonstrated her ability to effectively guide a global team that deals with a complex, multinational legal environment while serving as a leader who fosters collaboration and employee engagement for her team,” said Avnet CEO Rick Hamada. In 2013, Lewin’s team oversaw the legal aspects of 12 acquisitions with a combined deal value of $367 million and combined revenue value of $1.2 billion, as well as the divestiture of two subsidiaries.

Kelly LoCascio
Chief compliance office and executive vice president
Angel MedFlight
LoCascio has been with Angel MedFlight, a worldwide air ambulance company, since 2008. In 2008, LoCascio was named one of the top 50 pro bono attorneys in Arizona and stays involved in the community by volunteering for the American Cancer Society, FreshStart and HomeBase Youth Services. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Association of Corporate Counsel, and the Executive Women’s Golf Association. In addition to practicing law and volunteering, LoCascio was crowned Ms. Arizona Woman in 2007. This competition is part of the Arizona United States Pageants. She also ecompetes in triathlons.

Michael Mason
Senior counsel, labor and employment
Pinnacle West Capital Corp.
Mason is a strategic partner helping his internal clients solve legal problems in a changing industry. Mason transitioned two years ago as a shareholder at a large national firm, Greenberg Traurig, to a role with Pinnacle West. Mason often works to build consensus with various teams to reduce the threat of litigation. He challenges external counsel to be creative but cognizant of the costs of litigation. Mason served as the young lawyer representative to the State Bar Board of Governors for several years and currently sits on the Executive Council for the Labor and Employment Section for the Arizona State Bar.

L. Richards McMillan
Senior vice president and general counsel
Freeport McMoRan
McMillan has been senior vice president and general counsel of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. since October 31, 2007. McMillan served as senior corporate and securities law attorney of FCX since 1995. The Tulane University Law School graduate joined FCX after a 30-year career with the law firm of Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre, L.L.P., where he served as partner. McMillan served as head of Jones Walker’s corporate and securities section and also served as a member and chairman of the Jones Walker’s Executive Committee.

David Mulvihill
Vice president and general counsel
Make-A-Wish Foundation of America
Mulvihill is general counsel of the Make-A-Wish, a national nonprofit organization with 74 chapters that grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. A substantial portion of Mulvihill’s time is spent protecting the Make-A-Wish name and trademarks from infringement by sound-alike organizations and others. In connection with these efforts, he has worked closely with various state charity officials, as well as with the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the Federal Trade Commission. Prior to joining Make-A-Wish, Mulvihill was a partner in a firm in Pittsburgh, where his practice focused on commercial litigation.

Carmen L. Neuberger
Senior vice president and general counsel
Phoenix Children’s Hospital
A hospital that is a part of the ever evolving health care environment “requires a knowledgeable talented and dedicated general counsel,” said Debra Stevens, director of marketing and communications for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Neurberger not only possesses the knowledge and talent Stevens speaks of, but she essentially developed the hospital’s entire legal department. During this process, Neurberger was able to create a program which allows the hospital to manage and control its own risk. She is also credited with developing and implementing a code of ethics, and improving the relationship between the legal and human resources departments.

Daniel Oseran
Privacy counsel
eBay
Oseran has worked in the information technology and legal fields for more than a decade, ensuring legal compliance, designing network infrastrcuture and managing large project teams. He also enforced information technology laws on behalf of the 5th largest District Attorney’s office in the country, and prosecuted the first state level case of Internet anti-piracy in the United States. Oseran advises business units on developing privacy-protective products, campaigns, websites and other programs. He also manage internal tools to report compliance and communicate policies. Before moving to eBay, Oseran led Paypal’s innovation and continuous improvement of the IT control framework, including the integration of multiple compliance requirements.

John M. Pons
Executive vice president and general counsel
Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc.
Pons has been instrumental in guiding the legal department at Cole in supporting the company’s overall mission in the acquisition, management and disposition of real property. The company has seen tremendous growth, listed on the NYSE and has lined itself up for a merger/acquisition that is poised to make it one of the 15 largest REITs in the United States. Pons’ demeanor and guidance has helped make Cole’s legal department high-functioning, highly collaborative and highly-engaged. Before attending law school, Pons was a captain in the United States Air Force where he served from 1988 until 1992.

Deanna Pickering
General counsel
Lumension Security, Inc.
As the sole in-house lawyer, Pickering manages legal issues across the globe and is often called upon to do the day-to-day legal work, such as customer contract review, that helps the organization save money on outside lawyers. But as the general counsel for a software company with operations in North America and Europe and a sales force throughout the world, Pickering has to help the organization move forward with strategic initiative and work with other executives to manage risk, solve legal issues, and support and direct outside lawyers in a competitive and rapidly changing business environment.

Daniel J. Quigley
General counsel
Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise
Quigley began his representation of the Tohono O’odham Nation with respect to its gaming operations in 1995. However, it was in 2003 that the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise created its own in-house legal department and hired Quigley as its first general counsel. Quigley has faithfully represented the Nation’s gaming interests through a time when it has experienced exponential growth. Among his more noteworthy triumphs are the successful campaign for the 2002 Indian Gaming Initiative (passed by Arizona voters in 2002) and subsequent Gaming Compact negotiations with the State of Arizona.

Darrell Sherman
Vice president, general counsel, secretary
Taylor Morrison
Sherman joined Taylor Morrison as vice president and general counsel in June 2009 and helped the home builder launch a successful IPO in 2013. He is responsible for the company’s legal affairs including transactions, governance, litigation and regulatory matters. Prior to joining Taylor Morrison, Sherman was general counsel at Centex for four years in the Southwest and Mountain States Regions and associate general counsel at Del Webb/Pulte for five years. Prior to joining the homebuilding industry, he was a finance and real estate attorney at the law firm of Snell & Wilmer in its Phoenix office.

James Silhasek
Executive vice president and general counsel
Discount Tire
Silhasek manages the legal and real estate departments and is specifically involved in all real estate acquisitions, matters of taxation and complex business litigation. Silhasek began his association with Discount Tire in 1980, while in private practice, and joined the company in 1988. During his association with Discount Tire, it has grown to become the world’s largest tire and wheel retailer with more than 870 locations in 28 states. Silhasek received his Juris Doctor from Creighton University Law School and a Master’s of Law in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center.

Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.
Legal department
The natural and organic grocery chain hired its first in-house counsel, Brandon Lombardi, in January 2012 and he set about assembling an in-house legal department that could provide the needed legal services with the quality, acumen, and responsiveness that he and his fast-paced client demanded. Sprouts’ recent success, including the IPO which was shepherded from commencement to completion by Lombardi and his team, serves as a model for how to aggressively yet responsibly build a business. That success could not have been achieved without Sprouts’ legal department. That this 10-person team did not exist two years ago makes their accomplishments even more impressive.

Karen Stein, IO’s legal department
General counsel
IO
Stein oversees all legal and risk management functions of the company. She holds a Juris Doctor, with honors, from Emory University, an MBA from Loyola University with a concentration in finance, and a Bachelor of Science degree in business from the University of Maryland, where she graduated magna cum laude. She has practiced law since 1994, focusing on business transactions, licensing, and intellectual property. Before joining IO, Stein practiced at the Troutman Sanders law firm in Atlanta and served as the Assistant general counsel for the PGA Tour for 10 years.

Matthew Stockslage
Vice president and associate general counsel
Dignity Health
Stockslage is the senior legal leader for Dignity Health’s Arizona and Nevada service areas, which includes six hospitals — including the world-renowned Barrow Neurological Institute — and more than 40 affiliated outpatient sites. As one of three regional legal leaders reporting to Dignity’s general counsel, Stockslage supervises a staff of 11 and is the lead attorney for joint venture transactions and relationships across the Dignity system. He has helped implement a restructuring of the Dignity legal department, its work flows, reporting relationships and client accountabilities to facilitate Dignity’s implementation of healthcare reforms and to accommodate its growth strategy to become a national healthcare provider.

Randall S. Theisen
Executive vice president, general counsel, assistant secretary
Western Alliance Bancorporation
Theisen has served as general counsel of Western Alliance Bancorporation and its three bank affiliates includes Alliance Bank of Arizona, BankWest of Nevada and Torrey Pines Bank since February 2006. Theisen joined WAL from Squire Sanders & Dempsey and has more than 20 years of legal experience representing financial institutions in banking, corporate and financial services law. He was named a “Leading Lawyer 2006” and “Best of the Bar 2005.” He serves on the Business Law Committee and Consumer Financial Services Committee for the American Bar Association. He is also a member of the Arizona Bankers Association.

Michael Walker
Senior associate counsel, labor and employment/litigation
Insight Enterprises, Inc
Walker is the sole litigator and labor and employment lawyer for Insight in the United States and Canada. Insight is a Fortune 500 company that provides hardware, software and related services to business and government agencies. Walker is “stunningly successful” at preventing, resolving, and promptly defending claims that go through litigation in labor and employment, commercial matters and in actions brought by government agencies according to Mark Rogers, association general counsel for Insight. Walker has also been able to reduce spending on several categories of work. “Above all, (he) is a practical problem solver and has excellent business judgment,” Rogers said.

Stuart Zigun
Assistant general counsel
Emerson Network Power
Colleagues say Zigun in the kind of attorney every business wishes it had. Zigun has an exceptional depth of understanding of his clients’ business and products and is intimately familiar with the company’s strategy and direction. In more than 30 years as an in-house counsel, Zigun has never had an agreement he worked on be litigated. This is a testament to his ability to successfully resolve disputes. Zigun, who earned an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from Cornell and his law degree from Boston University, has represented large public companies that include Raytheon, Motorola and Emerson.

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FEI, Az Business present CFO of the Year awards

Financial Executives International (FEI) Arizona Chapter and Az Business magazine presented the 7th Annual CFO of the Year Awards at the Arizona Biltmore. The awards recognize professionals for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate financial stewards.

Read all about the finalists below, then check out photos of the event.

Finalists were Bradley C. Anderson, executive vice president of finance and CFO, Amtech Systems, Inc.; Dan Behrendt, CFO, TASER International; Jerome Bruggeman, CFO, RMJ Electrical Contractors, Inc.; Christina Cancino, senior vice president and CFO, Arizona’s Children Association; Sandy Catour, CFO, Sitewire; Ed Czemerych, CFO, Liberty Iron and Metal Holdings, LLC; Ward Huseth, CFO, Great Hearts Academies; Joseph Ivenz, CFO, Marcolin USA; Renee Krug, executive vice president and CFO, Clear Channel Outdoor; Thomas C. Lavoy, CFO, Veolia Transportation on Demand;  Shaun McMeans, vice president of administration and CFO, HTG Molecular Diagnostics; David Miller, CFO, Jokake Construction Services, Inc.; Doug Noblitt, executive vice president, finance and accounting, Tallwave; Chris Power, CFO, LifeLock, Inc.; Carlos L. Rojas, CFO, Heard Museum; Ashley Sanders, vice president of finance, Angel MedFlight; Richard Skufza, executive vice president and CFO, LaneTerralever; Debra Thompson, vice chancellor for business services, Maricopa Community Colleges; Christopher L. Turner, director of finance, GlobalMed; Dennis M. Via, CFO, NFP Property & Casualty Services, Inc.; and Shane Wells, Arizona-Nevada market CFO, IASIS Healthcare.

The four winners honored were:

CFO of the Year, Private Company

Thomas B. Fischer, CFO and vice president of finance, OnTrac

Since taking the role in 2000, Fischer has navigated business reorganizations, led the implementation of optimized business practices and collaborated toward the successful launches in five new states, helping to diversify the company’s services and increase customer value. His responsibilities include daily operations of financial and fiscal management.

Impact on OnTrac: In 2013, Fischer coordinated $40 million in new borrowings, which facilitated the buyback of employee stock option plans and the implementation of material handling, as well as allowing for the working capital for increase of business.  More than $20 million has been invested into equipment that will help OnTrac increase its package delivery from 50,000 packages a day to more than 300,000 packages a day. This type of automation significantly reduces the cost of delivery to the company.

CFO of the Year, Private Company

Tom Harris, executive vice president and CFO, Arizona Diamondbacks

Harris oversees all financial operations, risk management, administration, stadium operations and ownership relations. His tenure in this organization and in the industry make him an integral officer in assisting the president and CEO and other executives in guiding the organization to success. His knowledge of the inner workings of local government is essential in the day-to-day affairs of stadium related matters.

Impact on Diamondbacks: Harris spearheaded a 2011 debt refinancing, bond tender offer and line of credit with JP Morgan that reduced long-term debt by $1 million and provides for reduced interest expense and improved cash flow going forward. In 2011, he also spearheaded a modification of the team’s concessions agreement that has significantly improved its concessions revenue share.

CFO of the Year, Public Company

Amin Maredia, CFO, Sprouts Farmers Market

In less than two years, Maredia has established a public company finance function while completing a major strategic acquisition, more than $700 million debt refinancing, and leading Sprouts’ initial public offering efforts. In addition, he designed Sprouts’ finance infrastructure, including implementation of analytical tools, which provide the ability to monitor current and accurately forecast future performance. Maredia has also used his vast retail experience to help Sprouts execute its new store selection process and strengthen its position in the market.

Impact on Sprouts: Maredia has been instrumental in establishing the company’s internal control systems. He is a tireless advocate for transparency in not only financial reporting, but all areas of the operations. He has taken a lead role in developing a delegation of authority policy and code of conduct applicable to all company team members.

CFO of the Year, Nonprofit

Tanya Muñiz, CFO, Valley of the Sun United Way

Muñiz administers all financial operations and analysis. Under her leadership, the annual budget has grown from $50 million to $114 million in five years. United Way has very complex financials and undergoes six audits annually, with consistently excellent results and zero findings. Muñiz oversees a department of 20 employees who have flourished under her leadership. She led the development of organizational scorecards for measuring and managing performance. Customer satisfaction with accounting has increased by 25 percent since she became CFO.

Impact on United Way: Muñiz built a 10-year economic model that enables the organization to better plan its work and serves as a foundation for its strategic plans. The model enables Valley of the Sun United Way to see the effects of multi-year grants and major gifts, as well as recognizing that many expenses are long-term investments requiring up-front financing.

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The changing role of nurses

They are the healthcare providers that will see 22 percent job growth – more than any other occupation – through 2018. They are the communicators. They bridge the gap in the medical industry. They are the part of the healthcare team that makes sure that the right patient is in the right place getting the right thing done.

They are nurses and they are now taking on more specialized roles, applying advanced technologies and filling voids created by an anticipated shortage of primary care physicians.

“We are encouraging our nurses to return to school to advance their degree,” said Deborah Martin, senior director of professional practice at Banner Health. “Patients are much more complex in our hospitals, as well as in the home and our communities … Nurses need to have higher levels of education to manage these complexities in all settings where nurses practice. Advanced degrees are now required for our upper level nursing managers.”

About 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age every day, fueling the long-term demand for specialized nurses. To help fill that need, Arizona State University implemented the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) concentration.

“It will prepare nurse practitioners to deliver primary care to adults throughout their lifespan with increased emphasis on care of the aging population,” says Katherine Kenny, clinical associate professor and director of the DNP program at ASU.

Johnson & Johnson’s website lists more than 3,000 capacities in which nurses can be employed — from school nurses to jailhouse nurses. Nurses practice in hospitals, schools, homes, retail health clinics, long-term care facilities, battlefields, and community and public health centers. Everywhere there are people, there are patients, and everywhere there are patients, there are nurses.

“Nurses are becoming more influential in the policy changes that are occurring with the Affordable Care Act,” Kenny says. “More nurses are practicing in ambulatory care settings and public and community health.”

Arizona educational institutions are now offering a wide range of educational opportunities which support the nursing profession’s challenge to improve patient care outcomes for individuals, systems, and organizations. And because of skyrocketing healthcare costs, preventative care and education have become integral elements in reducing chronic illness and minimizing re-hospitalization.

“Nurses are now specializing in everything from palliative care and managing chronic illness, to maintenance and preventative care,” says Ann McNamara, dean of Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing. McNamara says students at GCU are spending more time concentrating on home healthcare and hospice in their new hands-on simulation labs, complete with live actors, computer-operated mannequins, and dynamic patient scenarios.

Angel MedFlight provides air medical transportation services from bedside to bedside.  The company’s CEO, Jeremy Freer, says “[Our] nurses are able to put all the components of the puzzle together and make the medical flight process more efficient, effective and compassionate.”

Nurses are also assessing the long-range healthcare needs of patients.

“Where once the hospital nurse’s prime responsibility was to provide the best care possible that the patient needed at that moment, now the nurse is also focused on what happens next,” explains Maggi Griffin, vice president of patient care services at John C. Lincoln Health Network.

Griffin says that patient discharge planning and post-hospitalization follow up are other key roles of the evolving nursing profession.

Advancements in technology have significantly enhanced patient care in recent years.  Nurses now have the ability to monitor patient conditions remotely, and electronic health records enable nurses to track, evaluate, and document patient information.

“Technology is opening doors to deliver nursing care in new and innovative ways, often serving as a second set of eyes to enhance patient safety or monitoring patients from their homes,” says Deborah Martin, senior director of professional practice at Banner Health. Martin adds that Medication Bar Coding is another example of how technology is helping nurses be more effective and prevent errors.

Due to the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in general, nurses are becoming more involved in a patient’s primary care.

“As advanced practice providers of healthcare, nurses with master’s and doctoral degrees are able to deliver high quality care to patients in their own individual practice,” Martin says, “as well as work side by side with physicians to provide care in a more cost effective manner.”

“As the major component of hospital rosters, nurses’ salaries account for a significant part of any hospital budget,” Griffin adds. “With financial stresses coming from the economy, from government healthcare program budget cuts and from other areas, nursing is much more tightly controlled.”

A decade ago, nursing shifts were scheduled regardless of room occupancy. Currently, industry experts say those staffing schedules fluctuate based on patient population in each unit.

The other major shift is in the demand for specialized nurses. Julie Ward, chief nursing officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, says specialties have nurses working in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.

“We are also exploring roles for nurses to shepherd groups of patients through the maze of care,”  Ward says. St. Joseph’s nurses make follow-up phone calls to patients to ensure the patient is safe and able to follow their discharge instructions, Ward says.

Still, the primary evolution of the nursing industry has been in higher education. Gone are the days when nurses were simply bedside attendants. Now, they are replacing the expensive medical doctors and are running their own practices as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) and in other upper level specialties. Most hospitals are encouraging their nurses to return to school to improve their knowledge base and advance their degrees.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) launched a two-year initiative to respond to the need to assess and transform the nursing profession. The IOM appointed a Committee on the RWJF Initiative on the Future of Nursing for the purpose of producing an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing. Through its deliberations, the committee developed four key messages:

* Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.

* Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.

* Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.

* Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure.

“We are encouraging our nurses to return to school to advance their degree,” Martin says. “Patients are much more complex in our hospitals, as well as in the home and our communities. As noted by the IOM, nurses need to have higher levels of education to manage these complexities in all settings where nurses practice. Advanced degrees are now required for our upper level nursing managers.”

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CEO Series: Jeremy Freer

Here is a Q&A with Jeremy Freer, CEO, Angel MedFlight, a Scottsdale-based air ambulance company that provides comprehensive worldwide air ambulance services.

What inspired you to start Angel MedFlight?
I grew up on a farm in Ohio and when I moved to Arizona for school, I worked as a flight paramedic that was doing something similar to what we do now at Angel MedFlight. During a break from school, I started thinking, “What am I doing and why am I doing it?” I wanted to do something with my life that I really loved and I loved the job as a flight paramedic, so I decided to start an air medical company, but I wanted to do it better.

Video by Cory Bergquist

How did a college student get the money to start an air ambulance company?
I was 25 years old, I put a business plan together, I sought venture capital, I sought investors and I was getting nowhere. It got to the point where I knew I had to do it myself. I pulled about $1 million in credit cards in just under 24 hours before the credit companies had time to cross-reference and that’s how we started.

You started Angel MedFlight in 2007. How were you able to start and grow a company in the middle of an economic crisis?
Instead of focusing on the financial climate, we’ve always put the patient first and we focus on doing the right thing the first time. As long as you always do that, you’ll be successful.

How are your challenges as CEO of Angel MedFlight different from challenges other CEOs face?
We have to deal with aviation, medical care, insurance regulations, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws. We have to know all the state, federal and international laws inside and out and know how they intertwine. We have to have strict checks and balances in place and quality assurance processes to provide the best care possible. Other companies don’t have to deal with balancing as many different elements as we have to balance.

What qualities do you think an effective CEO has to have?
You need to learn how to manage yourself first and it begins with character. Once you learn to manage yourself and lead from the heart, you can then focus on effectively managing the organization.

What do you have to do to the planes to configure them for medical use?
There is a sled system that goes in where the seat rails are and the seats come out of the aircraft. There is a bed in in, an oxygen cylinder, suction units, that sort of thing. It’s all the same equipment that you would find in the emergency room of a hospital.

What have you done to distinguish yourself in the industry?
What we have done in order to create a greater continuity of care that is different from everyone else in the industry is that we have nurse case managers that are on the phones, working with the families and are familiar with what the families are going through and understand the medical components of what is going on with the patient.

How has Angel MedFlight changed your industry?
When I started, if someone needed a medical flight and they couldn’t pay cash, they weren’t going to fly. We came in and thought that this is something an insurance plan should cover. You’re not flying an infant in need of care from Tulsa to Rochester, Minn. for no reason. As a company, we have helped change that paradigm within the industry and more insurance companies have become more understanding about the medical need for our industry’s services.

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Angel MedFlight Scholarship Open To Arizona Aviation Students

Angel MedFlight’s Scholarship for Excellence in Aviation is now open to students pursuing a degree in an aviation program at an Arizona college or university. Applications are being accepted through June 4, 2012.

For the third consecutive year, Arizona’s aviation students will have the chance to apply for a $3,000 scholarship courtesy of Angel MedFlight’s Scholarship for Excellence in Aviation.

The award, established in 2010 by air medical transportation leader Angel MedFlight in partnership with the Arizona Business Aviation Association (AZBAA), is available to students pursuing an undergraduate or post-graduate degree in an aviation-related program at a two- or four-year Arizona college or university.

“As an international air medical transport provider, we have the unique opportunity to impact the aviation industry not only globally and nationally, but also on community and individual levels,” says Angel MedFlight President and CEO Jeremy Freer. “This scholarship gives students a chance to be resourceful, share ideas and take an active role in shaping their educational experience and ultimately their careers.”

The annual Scholarship for Excellence in Aviation was created to support innovation and leadership in Arizona’s aviation students. Andrew Cochran, the 2010 recipient, is an Aeronautical Science senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz. The 2011 scholarship winner, Matthew Grega, is a first-year Aeronautical Engineering student, also at Embry-Riddle.

Applicants must submit a video, completed application, resume, school transcript and two recommendation letters. The scholarship committee will make its selection in August and funds will be disbursed directly to the recipient’s college or university. The scholarship will be awarded to a U.S. citizen without regard to sex, race, religion or national origin.

All entries must be postmarked by June 4, 2012. To learn more or download an application, visit http://www.angelmedflight.com/azbaascholarship.html.