Nursing alum Jason Tan,’06, was recently appointed to the position of Executive Director at Northwell Health’s LIJ Valley Stream Hospital. We had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Tan to discuss his experience at Molloy and his extensive career. What follows is a result of that discussion.
We all want to make our parents proud, and Jason Tan is no exception. The only child of Filipino immigrants chose to begin his college career on a pre-med track. “My parents wanted me to be a doctor and I started down that path,” said Mr. Tan. “When I was required to take organic chemistry I quickly realized medical school was not for me. It was very competitive.”
He quickly changed majors from pre-med to business administration, graduated, and went to work on Wall Street for a couple of years. After his stint in Manhattan, he moved on to a management position at a bank branch on Long Island. “I didn’t enjoy working in business. I didn’t find satisfaction in what I was doing.”
At one point, he found himself unemployed for a four-month period. During that time Mr. Tan made many employment inquiries and sent out countless resumes. Then his mother, who was a nurse, took him aside and suggested that he consider nursing as a career. “My first reaction was that I didn’t want to do the same thing as my Mom, and I didn’t know many male nurses. I was also smart enough to realize that nursing enabled my Mom to live the American dream. She liked to tell the story about the fact she only had $20 in her pocket when she came to America and she built a good life.”
So he began doing research about nursing, spoke to male nurses about the profession, and eventually decided to pursue a nursing degree. Which school he would attend was an easy decision. “As I spoke to people about Molloy I discovered its rich history in nursing and its stellar reputation.” So he applied and was accepted into Molloy’s Nursing program.
“Following one of my Molloy professor’s instructions to do a ‘head-to-toe’ assessment of patients proved to be great training for nursing in the real-world,” he said. “I felt well prepared for the highly competitive critical care fellowship I participated in.”
Mr. Tan, who became a cardiac thoracic nurse at Northwell’s Long Island Jewish Hospital, found himself continually being challenged. He worked well under pressure, was skilled at managing resources, and often found himself tasked with being the charge nurse. He was told by individuals in hospital management that he had the ability to be a successful manager and should consider making the transition.
After talking with a family friend who had become a mentor, Mr. Tan realized that his business studies, career in finance, nursing experience, and competitive nature made him a good fit for management. So, he pursued the opportunity to change positions and he became a quality manager for cardiology.
In 2014 he moved to Northwell Health’s Valley Stream location. The facility was previously known as Franklin General Hospital. At that time the hospital had a poor reputation, but he was given assurances that there would be changes made. “It was the best decision I ever made,” he said. “Being involved in the positive changes and elevation of quality services was a great experience. The hospital became a center of excellence. I consider being part of the upward trajectory of the hospital to be a professional triumph. I would be confident to bring my family here if they needed care.”
Commenting on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted his work at the hospital over the last two years Mr. Tan shared that during the height of the pandemic he had to assist in managing resources, particularly finding ways to make more beds available for patients. “It was also very important to support our employees during that time,” he said. “Something we will continue to do. Members of our community supported each other. We made sure we did what we could for everyone, even helping with childcare and offering EAP information if needed. We’ve added efforts to show appreciation and gratitude whenever possible, and we don’t take people for granted. In order to foster an appreciation of each other’s work we encourage stepping into someone else’s role for a bit to gain a better understanding and appreciation.”
Eight years after arriving at the Valley Stream hospital, Mr. Tan was recently named its Executive Director. He referred to his appointment as a “humbling experience.” He will oversee the 1,300 employees who work there, as well as the day to day operations of the 284-bed facility. “As the executive director my overall responsibility is focused on quality, patient experience, and the financial performance of the hospital,” he said. “I set the vision and goals for the hospital and am responsible for all strategic and operational activities/functions.”
“Jason Tan was my student during his early clinical rotations where he demonstrated a level of quiet strength and maturity beyond his years,” said Molloy College Assistant Professor, Andrea Spatarella, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC. “He was kind, empathetic and compassionate as he engaged with his patients and team members. I especially remember Jason’s innate ability to motivate and inspire his peers to be their very best. I’m incredibly proud, but not at all surprised, to learn of his success.”
A leader in the Northwell Heath System, Mr. Tan shared his concern that one of the major obstacles for nursing in the future is simply interest in the profession. “Nursing is not a sexy profession. It is hard work, but it does have a tremendous impact on people’s lives.” Having worked in nursing, he offered advice for today’s students. “Put the patient first, and do what is right by them. Ask questions and be involved. Choose a place you enjoy working, pick a hospital or floor where you are comfortable.”