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Published on September 14, 2018

Kate Nagel

The Value of Teamwork – From Hoops to Health Care

As a member of The University of South Dakota women’s basketball team, Kate Nagel learned the importance of managing time carefully. You don’t take part in Division I athletics while earning a bachelor’s and an MBA without a bit of planning.

The recent graduate, who is also newly married to her husband, Matt, is also close to celebrating three months as a member of Avera’s Service Line management team. A whirlwind spring of 2018 isn’t overwhelming her though.

“I am definitely a Type A personality, planning and scheduling – I would be the person who’d ask for our travel itinerary for away games well in advance of them,” said Nagel, who prepared for her Avera career through two internships prior to her hiring date. “In fact, the challenges that came with athletics and school really made me ready for my career. I almost feel like I have more free time now.”

Multilevel Preparation

As an operations coordinator with the Avera Service Line team, Nagel and her team help the 13 service lines achieve their goals. She said the day-to-day work is exactly why she worked so hard as a student, earning a bachelor’s degree in health services administration, as well as a MBA with an emphasis in that area.

“I originally began as a pre-med student, but it wasn’t meant to be, and when I switched my major, I knew I still wanted to have a health care role,” she said. “Our team works with a wide range of physicians, nurses and administrators, but we have one focus, much like our clinical teams: our patients.”

Nagel said she witnesses daily how projects can come to life and the important role that administrators play in maintaining and improving good patient care.

“We use patient data, as well as other research, to make a difference. You can see how much impact a service-line approach can make toward ensuring uniform care across an entire health system,” said Nagel. “Some of the service lines I work with are more established and some are newer, so it’s always a lot of variety – and a lot of opportunities to apply best practices or devise innovative approaches.”

Getting From There To Here

Memories of the many moments as a member of the Yotes women’s basketball team cemented a key idea for Nagel, long before she became part of Team Avera.

“For 15 years of my life, team-based athletics were a huge part of my life. You realize it’s not about you – it’s about something bigger than you. It’s the team,” she said. “You do your best for those people to your right and to your left, and that’s carried over into my work today.”

During her first internship, working with Avera Sacred Heart Hospital’s Executive Director of Organizational Excellence, Ashli Danilko, Nagel said she knew she was on the right path.

“First of all, Ashli is amazing, and she was super to work with and to work for,” she said. “She really made me realize I wanted to work for Avera, not just ‘in health care.’ She guided me, not just as an intern, but as a person. She made me see how administrative duties all come back to patient. Of course, my second internship was also amazing.”

In that situation, she worked with Craig Hohn, who was then director of Avera Service Line Coordination, and met many people who are now her colleagues.

“It was eye-opening, and I feel I learned as much during that short time as I did through my four years of classroom training,” she said. “I feel blessed to be a part of this team. It feels like everything I did at USD has come together to help me do this job well. I’m still quite new – but excited to see what our team can accomplish going forward.”

The Avera Career Center helps many people like Nagel find rewarding careers. You can get their expert advice as well.

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