"Take your time in choosing the specialty you want to go into. Learn about the health care environment and yourself. "
Former CEO of the Metropolitan Nashville Hospital Authority
Roxane Spitzer’s first job after graduating from Adelphi in 1960 was at North Shore Hospital, where she worked in a number of capacities before being promoted to evening supervisor. This experience laid the foundation for what would be a career in administration for Dr. Spitzer.
After gaining experience from her role as director of nursing as well as practicing nursing in both inpatient and public health settings, Dr. Spitzer decided to get her master’s degree in nursing service administration. As opportunities presented themselves, she found herself gravitating toward the administration route in nursing; “I didn’t choose to go that way,” Dr. Spitzer says. “It chose me.”
Eager to expand her horizons and experience life beyond Long Island, Dr. Spitzer moved across the country. She fell in love with California as well as her work at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Here Dr. Spitzer ascended the ranks to the position of vice president of patient services. In this role she oversaw all nursing services, social work, outpatient, emergency, operating room, and ambulatory care departments at Cedars-Sinai. She fondly remembers her time spent there as “the greatest learning experience.”
It was during her time at Cedars-Sinai that Dr. Spitzer had a revelation: she could make a bigger difference in the lives of patients if she could run a hospital. Dr. Spitzer knew that as a woman, she needed to obtain further degrees if she were to assume a position that would enable her to make such an impact. After receiving her M.B.A. in management and Ph.D. in executive management/strategic management, Dr. Spitzer was prepared to take the next step in her career.
Opportunity presented itself yet again, this time taking Dr. Spitzer to Nashville, Tennessee. She was recruited by Vanderbilt University, where she worked as professor and associate dean of the university’s School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Dr. Spitzer was finally able to make the impact she always dreamed was possible when she was hired as Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Nashville Hospital Authority in Nashville.
While Dr. Spitzer has retired from her position as CEO, today she teaches management strategies online for Texas Tech University, as well as at the Leadership Institute of Florida Atlantic University. She also serves as editor ofNurse Leader, the official publication of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. Despite her countless achievements as a hospital administrator, Dr. Spitzer is most proud of her work with non-profit organizations throughout her career. She has been involved with the Executive Service Corps and served on the Boards of the Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, the Nashville Opera Association, Alive Hospice, and the Tennessee Hospital Association. In 2003, she was one of only six women chosen for induction in the YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement.
Dr. Spitzer loves life in sunny Florida, where she lives today. In her free time, she likes to stay in shape, whether it’s by dancing or working out. She and her husband also love to travel.
When and why did you first want to become a nurse?
Nursing appealed to me at a young age. At thirteen, my mom became ill and went into the hospital. I fell in love with the nurses there. I admired their compassion and their ability to take care of patients.
In the late 1940s, nursing was highly respected. It was a profession that provided such great opportunities to work with people. My mom used to say I was born serious; I always knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I thought I would just take the traditional route to becoming a nurse and attend a three year nursing school. My mother, however, was adamant that I get my bachelor’s degree in nursing. She told me I was going to Adelphi.
Do you have favorite memories of your time at Adelphi and your residencies?
After my first year at Adelphi, we lived at the residences at Meadowbrook Hospital. We would work on the wards in the morning, and get bussed back for classes on campus in the afternoon. I loved the diversity of gaining the experience in patient care combined with the intellectual aspect that followed later in the day. It was fun and challenging.
Eileen Jacobi and Justina Eisenhauer stick out in my mind; they were remarkable women and great mentors.
I remember having high tea at the President’s house. It was such an elegant and charming experience…it made me feel a part of college life.
I was the President of the Student Nurses Association for our class.
At 18 and 19 years old, I began to learn to balance working with my mind, heart, and hands. Adelphi instilled in me a love for learning.
I graduated in 1960. Originally I was scheduled to graduate in 1959, but I got married and pregnant right away. I was going to leave Adelphi for the year to have my baby. Eileen Jacobi said to me, “Make sure you come back.” After I had my baby, I did return to Adelphi to finish my degree in nursing. Twenty years later I ran into Eileen Jacobi and she said to me, “I knew you would make tremendous contributions to nursing.” She really had an impact on me.
Adelphi had such a beautiful campus. It was a very intensive learning environment, but at the same time, it was fun. I did very well. I consider myself a pretty independent, fairly well-rounded woman as a result of my education. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Adelphi.
What advice would you give to today’s nursing students?
Nursing offers so many marvelous opportunities. It is a great career to pursue.
Take your time in choosing the specialty you want to go into. Learn about the health care environment and yourself.
Don’t take anything too seriously.
Good people need to choose careers in nursing management. A career in nursing management does not mean you are stepping away from nursing; it is actually a way to make more of an impact on a larger patient population.
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