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Military Background a Strength for Director of Surgical Services 

August 17, 2021


Military Background a Strength for Director of Surgical Services 

Keeping their cool in a sea of variability is an essential skill that can give a Director of Surgical Services with a military background an edge. They also bring some of the structure and team-building expertise learned in the armed forces to help improve organizational culture and staff morale.  

These changes don’t just make people feel better, they can impact volume growth, too. According to a 2019 study conducted by Grant Thorton and Oxford Economics, companies with a genuine sense of community, collaboration, and high employee engagement had a stronger financial performance. 

So, the next time you are in the market for a director, and you see a candidate with a military background, sit up, take notice. While they all approach things a little differently, they agree that teams rise in success together. 



Debra Muhl, BSN, MSM, RN: U.S. Air Force 

“I was an Air Traffic Controller (ATC), which requires you to look ahead to which plans are in line to take off. It’s called Anticipated Separation and that process relates to the OR. Always look ahead to what patient is next and what types of special equipment or supplies will be required to take ahead of them.” 

Interim Director of Surgical Services at Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge, MA.


Greg Holihan, MSN, RN, CNOR, RNFA: U.S. Navy 

“Rinse and repeat in-service education for staff. This helps improve staff knowledge and understanding for both day-to-day operations and survey readiness.” 

Greg Holihan is the Director of Surgical Services at Dameron Hospital in Stockton, California. 


Jeff Roos, MSN, CRNA, RN: U.S. Army 

“We need more team building in the private sector. Connection makes working together more successful. People will always have highs and lows, but because of that connection you can lean on others if you’re having a low day.” 

Jeff Roos is the Administrator of Anesthesia Services at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC.


Kate Lee, MSN, RN: U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy Reserves 

“Being punctual is something that is instilled in you throughout your military career, no matter what department you serve in. There is also more accountability. I don’t believe that I automatically receive respect, I earn it by giving it.” 

Kate Lee is Director of Surgical Services at Medical City Arlington in Arlington, TX.


Rick Fleeger, MSN, RN, CSSM: U.S. Army  

“In the military, leadership styles can be authoritarian. In the private sector, you must tweak your leadership style. You can’t just tell people to do things, you have to ask.” 

Rick Fleeger is an interim Director of Surgical Services. 


Ron Bullen, MBA, RN: U.S. Army 

“I think the military has taught me to be well-prepared. You don’t want to go in there and waste a high-ranking officer’s time. That strategy has worked well when dealing with surgeons who have competing commitments. People will be more likely to interact with you regularly if they know you’ll get to the crux of the issue right away.” 

Ron Bullen is President of Gordon Scott Consulting, a healthcare management consulting firm. 


Sasha Meyer, RN, CNOR: U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Reserves 

“The military has taught me to hold myself accountable. I’m a huge fan of Cy Wakeman and her work on reality-based leadership. To have a high-functioning team, you need to have self-accountability.”  

Sasha Meyer is Director of Quality Management and Medical Staff Services at Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon.


Susan Broussard, RN, CNOR: U.S. Army 

“In the military, what the commander says is the law and there is no questioning, just doing. The mission will be completed regardless. Not so much in the civilian world. So, when I bring some military-inspired approach regarding expectations to the OR, I do it slowly.” 

Susan Broussard is a healthcare consultant and interim director of surgical services. 


Trudy Grieff, MHA, RN: U.S. Navy 

“Keeping calm in hurried situations, loyalty, time and resource management, are some of the proficiencies I bring to the table. I would never ask my staff to do anything I would not do myself.” 

Trudy Grieff is an interim director of surgical services. 


Paul Giles, CNOR, RN: U.S. Army 

“Solid FCOTSs are where training in the military can really shine. In the military, if you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” 

Paul Giles is an interim director of surgical services.