Before Scott Fischer showed up to his first clinical class at Arizona State University's Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, he was used to taking the easy way out when getting his assignments turned in. It wasn’t until that class with Professor Helen Zsohar where Fischer learned that being unprepared was not tolerated in the health care profession.
“I appreciate her still to this day,” Fischer said. “She didn't let me cut corners and let me know why.”
Fischer, a 1986 Edson Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) graduate, went on to spend nearly 20 years working in the area of mental health treatment. Additionally, Fischer spent five years as a clinical instructor at community colleges across Maricopa County, which furthered his knowledge and expertise in the field.
In 2003, with multiple decades of clinical experience under his belt, Fischer decided to start a health care business. He knew exactly what the business would be: a service to provide seniors with easy access to professional medical resources and care they need.
“I wanted to own a business that left an impact and made the world a little better,” Fischer said.
With that, Fischer opened Options for Senior Living, which has helped thousands of families find affordable assisted living for seniors across Arizona.
After finding success with his first venture, Fischer recognized there were still gaps in this particular area of care. He launched Senior Resource Connectors to help empower older adults and their families as they navigate life's changes, equipping them with the best resources available.
“My businesses today serve families who are impacted by the difficulties of aging,” Fischer said.
When Fischer was a student, Edson College did not have a program dedicated to entrepreneurship in the health care field. Since his days as a Sun Devil, however, the college has added a Bachelor of Science in health entrepreneurship and innovation (HEI) program, which he says would have helped him a lot prior to starting his two businesses.
“When I talk to attorneys, physicians and other nurses who are now business owners, it’s shocking to me that none of us had any formal training from our education that prepared us for business ownership,” Fischer said. “Things like labor laws, contracts, writing a business plan, how to conduct proper interviews, writing performance evaluations and the hundreds of other things that are required from an owner were never taught to any of us.”
Fischer was ecstatic to hear about the addition of the HEI program and thinks that it will lead to bright futures for many of its scholars.
“I think it’s fantastic that the school is investing in those students who wish to pursue business ownership as an option while utilizing their degree,” Fischer said.
Below, Fischer reflects on his time in the nursing program and shares insight into how his degree led him to become a successful business owner.
Question: How did your degree program help you achieve and maintain your current position?
Answer: My nursing degree has opened so many doors for me that ultimately led to me owning my own businesses. The experiences I gained in my clinical work and the management and leadership roles I had during those formative years allow me to draw on a vast array of experiences that serve me so well, even to this day.
My years as an educator have paved the way for the opportunities that have come my way to become a better educator and communicator to families and the community I serve. The degree — and my experiences — also affords me additional credibility and trust to many families and professionals in my journey. That clinical degree speaks to the trust people feel toward nursing in general. Having lived in the Valley over 40 years now and graduating from ASU in 1986 additionally contributes to my credibility and trustworthiness for so many.
Q: What is a favorite memory from your time in your program?
A: I met some of the best people ever who supported and assisted me in my journey through the program. That reference is to both faculty and my colleagues. I maintained relationships with a number of them over the years. We shared something meaningful, challenging and life-changing together, and that bonds people.
Q: What advice would you give students who are currently enrolled in the program?
A: Don't quit — you lose when you quit. Life will unfold and offer more opportunities than you can imagine, but you have to stay the course. Nursing provides an incredible foundation that will open doors and allow you to pursue your dreams, and that can — and will — change over the years.
Q: What were some unique challenges, if any, you had to overcome while pursuing this degree?
A: In 1986, there were only four men who started my program, and we lost one along the way due to attrition. At that time it was newer to have men in the program, so some of my clinical experiences, maternity for example, were particularly challenging for myself and the patients I worked with. I'm not sure anything is different or could have been done differently with additional choices or clinical opportunities, but we all had to complete the same program without variance.
Q: What is one thing you learned from your degree program that has helped you out in your current position?
A: My first clinical instructor, Professor Helen Zsohar, demanded preparation. I was used to cutting corners and charming my way through so many things until that time. I understood very clearly and very early on that, as a professional, I had to be prepared when I showed up. No excuses. She demanded that there was no place for my cavalier attitude if I wanted to become a trusted professional. She didn't let me cut corners and she let me know why. I appreciate her still to this day. She prepared me for what would be required of me to earn my degree, and more importantly, to earn my way in my coming professional career as a trusted professional myself.
Written by Max Baker
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