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John Nance, Leadership Speaker

John Nance

    • Leader & Pioneer in Aviation and Medical Safety
Fee Range

$7,500 - $10,000

Travels From


Design-Build Conference

Design-Build Conference



One of the key thought leaders to emerge in American Healthcare in the past decade, John J. Nance brings a rich and varied professional background to the task of helping doctors, administrators, boards, and front-line staff alike survive and prosper during the most profoundly challenging upheaval in the history of modern medicine. 

Having helped pioneer the Renaissance in patient safety as one of the founders of the National Patient Safety Foundation in 1997, his efforts (and healthcare publications) are dedicated to reforming American Healthcare from a reactive cottage industry to an effective and safe system of prevention and wellness.  A lawyer, Air Force and airline pilot, prolific internationally-published author, national broadcaster, and renown professional speaker, John's leadership is propelled by a deep commitment.

As a native Texan, John grew up in Dallas where he  earned his Bachelor's Degree and a Juris Doctor Degree from SMU, and is still a licensed Texas attorney.  Named Distinguished Alumni of SMU for 2002, and distinguish Alumni for Public Service of the SMU Dedman School of Law in 2010, he is also a decorated Air Force pilot veteran of Vietnam and Operations Desert Storm/Desert Shield and a Lt. Colonel in the USAF Reserve, well known for his pioneering development of Air Force human factors flight safety education, and one of the civilian pioneers of Crew Resource Management (CRM).  John has piloted a wide variety of jet aircraft, including most of Boeing's line and the Air Force C-141, and has logged over 13,900 hours of flight time since earning his first pilot license in 1965, and is still a current pilot.  He was a flight officer for Braniff International Airlines and a Boeing 737 Captain for Alaska Airlines, and is an internationally recognized air safety advocate, best known to North American television audiences as Aviation Analyst for ABC World News and Aviation Editor for Good Morning America. 

Before joining ABC,  John logged countless appearances on national shows such as Larry King Live, PBS Hour with Jim Lehrer, Oprah, NPR, Nova, the Today Show, and many others.  He is also the nationally-known author of 20 major books, including the acclaimed WHY HOSPITALS SHOULD FLY (2009), and, with co-author Kathleen Bartholomew, CHARTING THE COURSE (2012), plus five non-fiction: (Splash of Colors, Blind Trust, On Shaky Ground, What Goes Up and Golden Boy) and 13 international fiction bestsellers: Final Approach, Scorpion Strike; Phoenix Rising; Pandora's Clock; Medusa's Child; The Last Hostage; Blackout; Fire Flight; Saving Cascadia; and OrbitPandora's Clock and Medusa's Child both aired as major, successful two-part mini-series on television.  (WHY HOSPITALS SHOULD FLY won the prestigious “Book of the Year” award for 2009 from the American College of Healthcare Executives).

John J. Nance has become one of America's most dynamic and effective professional speakers, presenting riveting, pivotal programs on success and safety in human organizations to a wide variety of audiences, including business corporations and healthcare professionals.  Together with fellow author Kathleen Bartholomew (Charting the Course and Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility - Why Nurses Eat their Young and Each Other),  the two of them are highly sought after for their watershed presentations to boards, senior leaders, physicians, nurses, and staff on Quality and Patient Safety.  He is a pioneering and well-known advocate of using the lessons from the recent revolution in aviation safety to equally revolutionize the patient safety performance of hospitals, doctors, nurses, and all of healthcare.  He lives in Friday Harbor, Washington.

The Mid-Course Correction: Where are we, how far have we come, and where are we going?

If you're familiar with military Stand-Downs, you know the concept of stopping periodically to assess what's working, what's not, and where you're headed, and you also know it's an invaluable tool.  That is precisely the spirit and intent of this presentation: provide a takeaway-rich opportunity to rededicate the entire institution (from the front lines to the boardroom) to a clearly redefined set of goals - High reliability.  Just Culture.  outcome-generated income - and how fearless communication and the constant search for best practices are the keys to providing the best healthcare medical science can inform.

And how to keep the doors open while doing all these things by maximizing income, lowering expenses, and utilizing cost-cutting expertise that's right under your nose in every department.

This program also articulates the latest and best methods of achieving the goals of safety, quality, and profitability.  This is, in other words, tactical as well as strategic training for effective teamwork.

With equal importance and emphasis, this program method focuses on inspiring a dynamic rededication to achieve the tough goals by enlisting virtually everyone in the organization and instilling the confidence that each member is a vital change agent whose ideas, actions, support, and opinions do matter.

Charting the Course: Innovative Leadership in the Face of Healthcare Reform

In this dynamic program based on the book Charting the Course: Launching Patient-Centric Healthcare, co-authors and speakers Kathleen Bartholomew and John J. Nance explain which steps must be taken by senior and middle management to lead your people to break free of "the way we've always done it" syndrome. They provide a crystal-clear understanding of all who work in the American healthcare industry of what has to be done - and in what order - to create a unified institution in which all members are truly dedicated to zero harm, the highest quality of care, communication, teamwork in its highest expression, and a common level of ownership.

Participants will:
Articulate why a new set of leadership skills is required to lead healthcare reform
List two qualities required of today's leaders in order to ignite and sustain true cultural change
Understand the carbon-based system: how people in groups react to stress, change, and routine
Give two examples of how you can personally shift the power structure from a hierarchy to a team in your department/organization to create synergy and maximize power
In light of new knowledge, give one reason why attempts to create a reliable, safe patient culture have failed in the past

What Now? An Urgently Needed Dynamic & Cutting-Edge Program for Healthcare Leaders & Physicians

In a combined half-day format, speakers John Nance and Kathleen Bartholomew will take C-suites, boards, and physician leadership through the irreversible realities of the current healthcare system - what changes are needed, why, when, and how. The new paradigm of healthcare requires a totally different set of leadership skills and a radically different way of perceiving healthcare, as well as a new understanding that the difference between survival and extinction for any healthcare entity now depends entirely on its leadership.

Nance and Bartholomew explain that the healthcare system that will emerge and succeed will not necessarily be based on ACO's, medical homes, or any other nationally directed idea, but it will be one that understands how to include, empower, motivate, and inspire the people who are the organization, as well as deal happily with the inevitability of human and systemic mistakes.

Why Hospitals Should Fly: The Ultimate Flight Plan to Patient Safety & Quality Care

Speaker John Nance's mission is to convince people that patient safety and service quality can be dramatically improved only when the traditional, hidebound methods of handling a human institution are abandoned and the hospital is run to directly support and be extremely responsive to the needs and limitations of the people who actually take care of the patient. This is not theory, but fact, based on the hard-fought experience of other industries—most notably aviation. And it means the creation of a new type of patient-centered culture dependent on the professionals who are the hospital; in other words, a flip-flop of the old model in which people work for a hospital in favor of a paradigm in which the hospital's primary purpose is building and maintaining a structure that dynamically supports the teams that provide the care.

Doctors, nurses, CEOs, trustees, and every health care stakeholder must overcome the inertia that is anchoring hospitals to the failed cultural foundations of the past and embrace a new paradigm of patient-centered care. As Nance explains, "The reality is that hospitals are people, and when, as a team, they can climb free of the failed methods of the past, they indeed can fly, in both spirit and accomplishment."

How Hospitals Fly

John Nance's Why Hospitals Should Fly sparked a nearly unanimous question across American healthcare: "How?” Agreed: we should be like the safe, happy, and cost-effective St. Michael's Hospital depicted in the book, but how on earth do you begin the process of change? How do you start the journey? That is precisely the question this lecture, "How Hospitals Fly," deals with - and answers - using specific methodologies, recommendations, and strategies to help you spark an energized internal determination to be the best.

Based on the voluminous research underlying the soon-to-be-published How Hospitals Fly, (the sequel to Why Hospitals Should Fly), and targeted on 2012's tsunami of challenges and changes confronting the industry, this speech tackles the question of what to do now regarding increased dependency on HCAHPS and patient satisfaction metrics, CMS pressures, and curtailed reimbursement, the expanding list of "Never" events, and the massive challenge of creating a unified organization from a collection of siloed fiefdoms.

This dynamic lecture takes you with great clarity into the heart of exactly what steps must be taken by senior and middle management to lead your people to break free of the "way we've always done it" syndrome. It gives virtually everyone in the American healthcare setting a crystal-clear understanding of what has to be done, and in what order, to create a unified institution whose members from bottom to top are truly dedicated to zero harm, the highest quality of care, communication, teamwork in its highest expression, and a common level of ownership.

The 8 Major Dysfunctionalities of America's Healthcare Non-System

This lecture covers in a completely up-to-date fashion not only the national shift in insurance methods but the particulars of why the overarching goal of healthcare reform will never work without changing from a fee-for-service community. Healthcare must transition, and fast, to a true system that is compensated more when needed less by an increasingly healthy population.

The role of doctors and nurses and hospitals should be to improve health. The present system, however, cannot stay afloat financially if the number of patients needing its services drops significantly. Therefore, we have an upside down non-system that will only reward practitioners and hospitals if the public health does NOT improve (and the numbers of patients do not diminish). How do we change that system into the "firehouse model," in which healthcare is compensated on an increasing basis for decreasing health problems resulting from their efforts? The future of American healthcare literally depends on finding the right answers (and methods).

The Board's Pivotal Role in Patient Safety

This lecture will revolutionize the way your board looks at its duties and will delve deeply into the cause-effect relationship of the board's actions (or inactions) and the right of their hospital's patients to be free from unreasonable risk of inadvertent harm. With patient safety disasters (e.g., medical mistakes) now the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, these issues must be faced and acted on, not just debated.

A pivotal wake-up call, this presentation is best utilized in an off-site board retreat setting. It has been repeatedly praised for rapidly educating hospital boards and for effectively redirecting efforts with their hard-hitting look at the realities of what it takes to protect patients.

Ending Medical Apartheid

Aimed at physicians, this lecture targets the traditional 4,000-year history of keeping physicians separated from the rest of the healthcare community in ways that are ultimately the prime cause of poor communication, failed teamwork, toxic staff relations, and patient safety disasters. The bottom line is that it will be forever impossible to have a safe and effective medical care system until medical apartheid is ended.

John Nance guides doctors in how to overcome this traditional prejudice, and how to redefine themselves as team leaders with no loss of authority but a significant gain in effectiveness and respect by simply changing the way they relate to their own potential for mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others. This has been, in the majority of instances, a career-changing presentation.

The Medical-Legal Mess & How It Kills Patients

When someone is injured by a medical mistake, our legal system is ill-equipped to respond. The section of tort law known as medical malpractice has only one tool: the extraction of money for the wrongful hurting or killing of a patient. And the only means to apply that tool is a ruinously expensive and slow process that requires the lawyers prove the medical professionals being sued were the most negligent, careless, and outrageously unqualified oafs imaginable; very seldom, however, do such persons exist. Most of the time those vilified in order to extract compensation are good doctors and nurses who have made a human mistake in a system ill-designed to catch it in time.

This lecture outlines how Mr. and Mrs. America have been completely disenfranchised by the current MedMal system, and how the cure will require pulling the tort system completely away from incidents of medical MIS-practice – good people making human mistakes in an imperfect system.

Speaking Topics:

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