Sandra Myerson’s interest in healthcare began early, dating to a conversation she had in her adolescence with her mother, Patricia Keating Myerson, a now retired registered nurse.
“I think she knew I’d never be bored and that I’d be able to support myself, and those are always good things for a young person to hear about a potential career,” Myerson said. “I’ve always enjoyed the sciences and I like people, too, and those are the other reasons I chose to pursue nursing.”
From emergency nurse to top executive, Myerson has covered plenty of ground in her career path. She is the recently appointed Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience Officer, a newly created position at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, a seven-hospital system with more than 35,000 employees. Tasked with developing a vision and strategy to improve the patient experience, the Fox School of Business alumna arrived at Mount Sinai in November from a managing consultant position with Press Ganey Associates.
“Larger institutions are creating this position, and it’s a fairly new one in the industry,” Myerson said. “It’s about setting the course for improving our patients’ experiences – how we can improve our processes to make a patient’s hospitalization, outpatient surgery procedure, and physician’s office visit smoother and more efficient, and how we can improve our communication tactics to show compassion and empathy towards patients and their family members. It really requires changes in clinical, operational, behavioral, and cultural aspects of healthcare delivery.”
“We want our patient experience scores to be a valid reflection of what patients are saying about us, and to be reflective of as many patients as possible.”
Myerson holds a joint graduate degree from the Fox School of Business – a Master’s of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration and a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Finance, both of which she attained in 2001.
With more than three decades of experience as a healthcare practitioner and executive, Myerson said her position at Mount Sinai, which combines training, education and communication, is ideal.
She has served as a flight nurse who provided on-the-scene care for trauma patients. She’s worked in a cardiac step-down unit, in emergency rooms and in intensive-care units. She’s had business cards for positions as the Associate Vice President of Healthcare Services (Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia), the Executive Director of Ambulatory and Emergency Services (WellStar Health System, Atlanta), and the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services (Aria, Philadelphia).
Along the way, Myerson said she started and stopped her pursuit of a graduate nursing degree more than once.
“But I figured I needed to understand the business of healthcare if I ever wanted to run a hospital, and so obtaining a finance degree seemed a logical pursuit,” she said.
That’s when Myerson enrolled at the Fox School of Business. “I learned about Fox’s MBA-MS joint program, and I thought it’d be a good fit for me as I worked full-time. The MBA portion of the program fit well with what I was doing at the time, and I enjoyed it. When I got into some of the more challenging finance portions of the program, it was like learning a whole new language – it seemed so foreign to me.” The hardest part about her decision to attend Fox, she said, was having to relinquish her side job as a flight nurse.
“It was hard to hang up my helmet,” she said, “but it was something I had to do to achieve my goals.
At Mount Sinai, Myerson will have to wear two different hats, bridging the gap between the administrative and clinical sides in regard to patient care. She will collaborate across multiple departments of the health system to improve every aspect of the patient experience.
For Myerson, this is simply another facet of the ever-evolving healthcare industry she loves, a line of work she learned to appreciate early on in life.
“I learned a lot about what it was like to be a nurse from my mom,” Myerson said. “I learned plenty from my patients, too. Finding a way to connect with my patients has always been important to me. I got out of that a lot of positive reinforcement, and it inspires me to do what I do today.”