ASU nursing alum discusses path to becoming multibusiness owner

February 7, 2023

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.” Headshot of Scott Fischer. He's smiling at the camera with out of focus trees in the background. ASU alum Scott Fischer says his time in the nursing program helped him become a successful health care business owner. Photo courtesy Scott Fischer Download Full Image

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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Exhibit gives high school students chance to express themselves

February 7, 2023

ASU West campus gallery features students' work on several societal issues

A little more than a year ago, Charles St. Clair and Matthew King had a conversation.

St. Clair, technical director in the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies within ASU's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, wanted King’s art class at Academies at South Mountain high school to have an exhibit displayed this February as part of Black History Month.

As the two men discussed what the exhibit might be, King thought about everything his students had endured — physically, emotionally and socially the last few years.

The COVID-19 pandemic. The social justice movement. The political environment.

It was too much, King thought.

That conversation sparked the theme of the exhibit, which will be on display at the ArtSpace West Gallery on Arizona State University's West campus through Feb. 23 and can be viewed from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday or by appointment.

It's a two-part title: “This Is Too Much, We Didn’t Ask For This” and “Sometimes We Just Want To Forget About It.”

“It’s a response to what the last couple of years have been like for our students,” said King, who, along with teachers Crowe Hajenga, Alex Killion, Megan McRae, Vivian Spiegelman and Kayla Weston, head the magnet visual arts program for the Phoenix Union High School District. “I mean, it’s been a lot. So, this is too much, we didn’t ask for this and we have things we want to say about it.

 “But then what we realized is that we have students … it’s not their responsibility to fix the world’s problems. Sometimes they just want to relax. They want to vibe. So, we wanted to show both sides of that.”

The exhibit — which includes hand drawings, digital art, ceramics, blackout poetry, animated comic strips and print art — is set up to naturally transition from the chaos of the last two years to the need for peace.

To the left of a column that separates the room, and just inside the entrance, are the students’ pieces depicting their response to societal issues.

Then, as visitors take a right to the other side of the room, they’ll see pieces that give the students happiness or joy.

“We spent a lot of time kind of figuring out exactly how we wanted to do that,” King said. “We intentionally set it up to get a feeling of tension, and then on the vibe side, the artwork is set up in a much more calming fashion.”

St. Clair said the exhibit accomplishes two New College objectives: Reaching out to the surrounding community, and giving minority artists an opportunity to share their work and have that work presented to a panel of judges.

“It was important to us to make sure that the Black and Latino population of South Phoenix knows that this is their home,” St. Clair said. “And ASU is a home to them; that it shouldn’t be foreign to them. By housing a show here, I think it sends that signal.”

During the opening reception on Feb. 1, families and friends walked through the exhibit, marveling at not only the work done by teenagers but their maturity in addressing difficult societal programs through art.

“What I’m really proud of when I look at this stuff is how much my students have their own voice,” King said.

One of those students, Lorelei Shirey, stood by her hand-painted work titled "The Bigger Picture." It depicts a large hand putting out a cigarette and hovering over the “general masses” going about their day-to-day lives in an ashtray. Outside the ashtray is a world the masses can’t access.

“I was trying to get across how the 1% and people in power a lot of times will kind of use the normal people or the general masses as just kind of like pawns to what is going on behind the scenes,” said Shirey, a senior at South Mountain. “So I just wanted to portray an encapsulated space that kind of felt confined, while also showing that there’s all this room outside but no true way to get out.”

On the other side of the room, senior Rain Lyons showed off her digital work "The Rain in the Healing." Using Adobe Illustrator, a photocopier and a typewriter for the text, Lyons illustrated rain falling outside a window, with a haiku at the bottom right of the piece:

"It’s a rainy night

The rain knocks on my window

It's hitting my heart"

“I just love when the rain happens,” Lyons said. “I think it’s very beautiful and just kind of poetic, especially where we live. It doesn’t rain very often in Phoenix, so it’s always just really nice to see. I just kind of wanted to highlight the beauty of the rain.”

St. Clair said he hopes the students’ work was cathartic.

“The exhibit signifies the struggles they’ve been through during the COVID period and how it’s affected their lives,” he said. “This is an opportunity for them to express themselves in a lot of different ways. In today’s society, sometimes we don’t give them the voice they need. This exhibit exemplifies the opportunity for them to have a voice.”

Top photo: Family members Ernie Sandez (left) Beatrice Sandez, Alexis Ibarra, 17, and Destiny Sandez, 7, snap photos of Alexis' "Wildlife" ceramic tribute to Steve Irwin and his dedication to wild animals, during the “This is Too Much" art show opening on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the ArtSpace West Gallery on ASU’s West campus. Alexis hopes her passion for animals will lead her to a career in veterinary medicine. The free exhibit is open to the public through Feb. 23. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Scott Bordow

Reporter , ASU News