Don Wagner never dreamed when he was drafted into the Air Force as a physical therapist during the Korean War that he would end up as a brigadier general. But during that first tour, an Air Force hospital administrator spotted him, thought he had management potential, and lured him into re-enlisting by giving him interesting and challenging assignments.
When Kevin Unger took over as president and chief executive officer of 233-bed Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., in 2005, he was in his mid-30s and had a mere two years of experience in hospital operations. He got the job because the hospital’s physicians lobbied for him.
Mark Neaman, a longtime chief executive officer at a health system in north suburban Chicago, describes himself as “a throwback to a previous generation” because he has spent his entire career at one institution. But for someone who has been in the same place since 1974, his reach into the healthcare industry has been wide-ranging and influential.