Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Kurt Gensert, 34
Director of Emergency, trauma and critical care, Platte Valley Medical Center
Kurt Gensert followed a fairly typical career course in healthcare, focusing first on clinical care before moving into management. A longtime emergency room nurse, Gensert's first love was caring for patients. As he added more and more management responsibilities, he began to realize his overall impact-on the hospital, its staff and its patients-was increasing more than he could ever have imagined.
"I love my work," Gensert says. "People get into nursing for all different reasons. I felt like I had a calling to it. I knew it was what I wanted to do from the time I was a little kid. My big struggle a few years ago was this: Did I want to continue with my clinical duties or take on more and more administration? The bottom line was that the capacity to help effect change is increased exponentially when you move into administration."
Described as a strong leader and motivator, Gensert has moved into administration in a big way. A charge nurse and trauma coordinator at 64-bed Platte Valley Medical Center in the Denver suburb of Brighton just two years ago, he is now the director of emergency, trauma and critical care at the hospital.
His accomplishments at Platte Valley prompted the entire staff of the emergency department to nominate Gensert for an Up & Comers award this year, describing him as a man of "unflinching integrity" who has helped to dramatically improve retention levels and patient satisfaction at the small hospital just north of Colorado's capital city.
In slightly more than two years as an administrator in the ER, which handles about 20,000 patients per year, the 34-year-old Gensert has implemented several quality-improvement measures, including a program that encourages ER and critical-care nurses to "cross-train" in one another's specialty as a way of addressing the nursing shortage in the metro area. That program has helped to reduce turnover to zero in the four months since it was instituted, Gensert says.
Cheryl Bentley, chief nursing officer and vice president of operations, describes Gensert as one of those rare individuals who can blend the skills of a clinician with those of a leader. "He's profoundly motivated; he's fair and he is very caring with the staff," she says. "He respects them and they, in turn, respect him."
By using information technology and other methods to track patients and restructure workflow in the emergency department, the average time from the "front door to the gurney" is 16 minutes-a dramatic decrease from the former 52-minute wait, he adds, and far below what he says is a national average of almost two hours.
Gensert, who has earned several awards for his clinical work, graduated magna cum laude from State University of New York in 1992, with a bachelor of science in nursing, and is working toward a master's degree in business administration/healthcare management. He says his next step might be stepping up to a job such as chief nursing officer, but he's not ruling out anything down the road.
"I really love what I'm doing right now," he says. "Certainly, I'm thinking about executive administration-having the ability to do the same sort of cool things I've been able to do here (across the hospital). I think I could be a chief nursing officer. Or chief operating officer."
How about chief executive officer?
"I'd be happy with that," he says.