In his own words: NNMC chief executive Alan Olive

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Northern Nevada Medical Center and the duties of your position.

Alan Olive: Northern Nevada Medical Center is a community hospital offering a wide range of inpatient/outpatient services and specializing in surgical services. My role as chief executive officer is to ensure the highest quality and satisfaction of care to our patients and an environment of excellence for our patients, employee team and for our physicians.

NNBW: How did you get into this profession?

Olive: As a young boy I seemed to be prone to accidents, resulting in hospital visits, surgeries and high expense for my parents. I took an aptitude test early in my college years, which stated that a profession as a university dean or hospital administrator would fit my profile and skills. I decided upon the healthcare administrative route. I attended Brigham Young University and obtained my undergrad degree with the intent of moving on to obtain my post-graduate degrees. I have two master’s degrees from Loma Linda University: public health and health administration. I went on to a post-graduate fellowship with Providence Health and Services in Washington, where I put into practice the years of learning. I actually found that the post-graduate fellowship provided me more education and insight than my years of learning in the classroom.

NNBW: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career that helps you successfully run NNMC?

Olive: The common thread that binds success and satisfaction is simply this: Service to those who are in need or who are vulnerable. One of my early mentors once said, “If you are not serving the customer, you better be serving on who is.” That stuck with me for many years, and I have found the greatest satisfaction when serving others. I found my calling in life by service. I view the hospital as a means to serve people. There are innumerable ways that we can provide service to people.

NNBW: What aspect of your job presents the most challenges?

Olive: There are several key challenges as we try to improve the care and health of our community. The Affordable Care Act provided access to insurance, however it did not provide access to health care. This has been proven to be a challenge for all providers. The access to affordable care is part of the key to success to achieve wellness and health in our community. We need a strong collaboration of physicians, advanced nurse practitioners, physician assistants, hospitals, urgent cares, government-sponsored clinics and the list goes on. Hospitals are only a part of the solution to improve our community’s health issues. They key to having a healthy community is outside the walls of hospitals. It is in the home of every family. What people do, what people eat and how people care for their bodies determines much of what enters into the hospital. Health of the mind, body and spirit is the key to a healthy community.

NNBW: What’s new at Northern Nevada Medical Center?

Olive: Northern Nevada Medical Center has the tradition of offering excellence in care to its patients. We work closely with our physicians and clinical staff to plan for the next step in excellence in care. Besides earning the “gold seal” certifications for the region’s only accredited knee, hip, spine and low back pain programs, Northern Nevada Medical Center and Universal Health Services will be providing the region’s first pharmaceutical distribution service. This new service will provide mail order pharmacy services for our region and then expand to other regions in the United States. Northern Nevada Medical Center also offers robotic tele-health neurological services to multiple rural communities across our state and northern California, which is soon to expand to additional communities. The tele-health services are also being partnered with Universal Health Services behavioral health facilities ability to provide remote tele-psychiatric assessment services across many rural communities as well. Northern Nevada Medical Center is also working with its parent company, Universal health Services, to provide additional tele-health services to ensure that great care can be provided regardless where one lives.

NNBW: What was your first job?

Olive: I graduated from Wooster High School. When looking for a job to help fund gas money, summer activities and save for a two-year mission for my church in Venezuela, I found that location and the like for hamburgers guided me to work at Wendy’s. It was close to the school and the thought of having a double cheeseburger with a chocolate frosty made work fun and satisfying.

NNBW: If you could do anything, what would be your dream job. Why aren’t you working it?

Olive: A dream job? I dream about a lot of things, but I have yet to find a better fit for myself that in working with the amazing people who save lives everyday, who improve health and hope, who reduce stress so one can enjoy life to the fullest. I think what I do, working with incredible people who care for our community, is about as good as it gets!

NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter the medical or medical administrative profession?

Olive: I would ask the question to someone who wants to be a nurse, doctor, technician or administrator: “Do you feel called to do this work?” I believe that caring for people or providing leadership for those who care needs not only to be a strong desire, but an inner calling that compels them to make the service of caring for their fellow human beings a life’s work. I believe with a healthcare career you have to enjoy the work, find work that is meaningful, have desire to serve, and be willing to collaborate and challenge the norm.

NNBW: What’s the most fun you have had on the job?

Olive: I enjoy interacting with patients, our nurses and physician care teams along with the many other team members who make caring for patients their life’s work. Most people outside of the healthcare field would not think one could not have fun within the walls of the hospital. We do have fun at appropriate times. There is a lot to celebrate in high-performing teams.

NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?

Olive: Usually with my wife VaLynn and our children. Family is top shelf. I do enjoy the great outdoors of northern Nevada — there is only one Lake Tahoe! Mountain biking, road bike riding, working out at the gym or going on adventures/activities with my family. I am a novice juggler and artist. My drawings and paintings sometimes resemble recognizable objects.

NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change that would directly impact your career today?

Olive: I would have more hair and be taller. Besides that I would have reached out more to the wisdom of the mature leaders and physicians earlier to incorporate their learning into my life sooner.

NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?

Olive: I recently read one of my journals when I was a teenager and found an entry that stated that I wanted to become a policeman or an actor. My brother is a Los Angeles police officer. After listening to his stories, I am not sure if I was cut out for that. I have no idea why I would ever want to be an actor? I don’t like cameras!

NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?

Olive: I would spend several years serving others in medical or religious missions in third-world countries. I would also share with my family some wonderful places in this country and other places around the world of God’s creations.

NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?

Olive: The last concert I attended was Rascal Flatts, which was a anniversary gift from my dear wife. Other than that, I am at my son’s football games or my kid’s events or at church/community activities.

NNBW: Where’s your perfect vacation spot?

Olive: I like a variety. I love the Southwest national parks. I also don’t mind the warm Caribbean climate with the sand and the waves tumbling over my feet. Our family also enjoyed the great Northwest, where we lived for about three years with the majestic waterfalls and amazing people.

NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?

Olive: I am a native Nevadan. I love it here with my family. Nothing can beat a mountain bike ride in the Sierras or in the mountains by Virginia City, or a road bike ride through country roads in the morning. Northern Nevada is a special place and is ready to grow again. I want to give back to our community and shape the landscape of health and healthcare in our community.


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