Future Leader: John McFarlane, Chief Clinical Officer, Ignite Medical Resorts

The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of care delivery across the senior housing, skilled nursing, home health and hospice industries. To see this year’s future leaders, visit Future Leaders online.

John McFarlane, chief clinical officer at Ignite Medical Resorts, is a member of Aging Media Network’s inaugural Future Leaders class.

The Future Leaders represent some of the most dedicated and innovative young professionals shaping the next generation of post-acute and long-term care. Nominated by their peers, each of our honorees demonstrates a commitment to improving the lives of elders — and making the changes that skilled nursing will need to serve the seniors of tomorrow.

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SNN sat down with McFarlane to learn about his path into the industry, and where she wants to shape senior care in the years to come.

What attracted you to working in post-acute and long-term care?

I was interested in nursing from a young age, from about the age of 16. That was when I first became a CNA. My mom is a physician’s assistant and has always been involved, in some form, in the post-acute world, as far as seeing patients and things like that. So learning from her experiences and her knowledge, and taking an interest in that field early on in life — frankly, I just knew what I wanted to do from a young age in terms of where I wanted to be, and what I want to do in terms of being a nurse. 

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I think the post-acute world, the biggest draw that I had was from my mom, and just learning from her experiences in the field, and taking an interest based on speaking with her.

So many people in this series have talked about a connection to the space that began at a very young age, or with a family connection, or both. But that only brought you into the space — what makes you stay?

Every industry needs good people. I think that in the post-acute world, we need good people; we need good nurses, we need good therapists. We need all of those people to be well-trained and to be rewarded both verbally, financially — whatever it takes to keep staff motivated to keep coming in.

I learned early in life that some leaders are more engaged than others, and I wanted to take it upon myself when I was a younger person: I want to be a leader that’s engaged. I want to stay in this industry and do as much as I can to improve outcomes, improve the technology that’s available, improve the knowledge that’s available to the staff, and just try to improve outcomes.

I think what gets me out of bed in the morning to do that is knowing that my staff count on me for policy, for updates on nationwide changes — especially now with coronavirus going around. They count on me to be that information source in terms of giving them what they need, being a resource to them — assisting in the communities themselves, going in and actually getting hands-on and training with the leadership teams of each post-acute community that I oversee.

How do you think the industry should change based on what we’re seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic? What changes do you want to help shape?

There’s obviously a lot of things — both big-picture and at the facility level — that I would like to do, that’s on my agenda for the future. Obviously with coronavirus, that has kind of delayed some of effort to do that.

But I think the biggest thing that we’re working towards, for myself and the company I work for, Ignite Medical Resorts, is getting the best relationship we can with our neighboring hospitals in terms of education — [that’s] probably the biggest piece. Starting to get specialty physicians, ER physicians to do either in-person trainings or Zoom trainings with the nursing staff at our post-acute care communities to help them think through different changes of condition, how to care for different conditions and disease types. And just having a constant flow of communication back and forth — because we work, obviously, in the post-acute care world, very closely with our hospital partners.

I think that’s the piece that historically in our field has been missing, and that’s something that I’m working towards in all of our communities — to get that hospital buy-in, to have the specialists, have the people that have some different experiences, different training backgrounds, help the post-acute care world in terms of education and training.

To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit the Future Leaders homepage.

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