Want a growth-oriented career path? Follow Michael Mers, business development specialist

September 13th 2019, Careers

Michael Mers never had any intention of working in skilled nursing. In college, he studied international business and Spanish and knew none of the healthcare acronyms he now rattles off in a typical day on the job as regional director of business development in Western Michigan.

But, Michael’s passion for working with people, solving problems and supporting growth in an organization makes skilled nursing his perfect career path.

“I started green and had a mindset for learning,” says Michael.

And learn he did.

Michael began by working as the admissions director at Heartland Muskegon and Whitehall, focusing on community building and census. By the time SKLD acquired those facilities in July 2018, Michael had already moved on to become business development specialist in Grand Rapids.

One year later, Michael is a great example of how an employee with drive and talent can channel his passion for career growth into the skilled nursing industry.

“The thing that jumped out to me right away is the investment and commitment the administration have to their people. SKLD is really building a culture where they invest in their employees at every level to ensure that they have the tools and the knowledge that is needed to excel in their given position,” says Michael.

Advice to Launching Your Career in Skilled Nursing

For those just starting out in the industry, Michael recommends remaining open minded about new ways to do business. “Speak up about new ideas or areas for improvement. I have seen a lot of people in a new business development role be skittish of bringing up ideas to administration or nursing because their background isn’t not ‘clinical,’ but if our company and industry are going to best serve our patients, we need to continue to evolve and improve our processes. Sometimes those ideas come from a fresh set of eyes within the industry, and people should not be afraid to share them.”

Encouraged and trained by Yosef Nathan, vice president of business development, Michael successfully stepped into a new role as hospital liaison to the Spectrum Health Hospitals in the region. There he built a relationship from scratch to become a preferred provider and more recently a specialty provider for hyperbaric oxygen wound care patients. SKLD Beltline in Grand Rapids is now one of only two facilities in the area able to provide skilled nursing care for patients who would otherwise spend 40-50 days in the hospital, with no access to rehab.

“The administration demonstrated willingness to coach me on identifying clinical program needs at the hospital level and how to translate that into programming at the skilled nursing level to better handle and accept more clinically complex patients. Then he gave me the freedom to pursue and develop programs within my assigned hospital system which has led to fantastic new partnerships and growth.”

This summer brought another career move for Michael, as he became regional director of business development for Western Michigan. The position combines all of his past experience working in admissions and as a community liaison. He hopes to use his firsthand experience to coach the staff he manages now. “My goal is to build SKLD’s reputation in the West Michigan market as a leader in post-acute care, by developing and advancing our programming and relationships with our health care systems and community partners. I want to continue to develop the liaison, admissions and central intake staff so they are best equipped to be leading experts and the go-to resource for skilled nursing care for health care providers, patients and families in their respective communities.”

Michael’s career in long term care turns out to be the perfect fit for his interest in business development. He’s grateful for the opportunity to use his business acumen and drive to serve his community.

Interested in a career with Illuminate HC? We’re hiring in facilities and in our corporate office across Ohio and Michigan. Check out our job openings.