John Gallagher, ’ 91, MSN ’99, began his career in healthcare early, working with an ambulance company at the age of 15 and becoming a paramedic by 18. During the next 10 years, Gallagher pursued the necessary education to become a respiratory therapist and registered nurse. That’s when, Gallagher says, his career evolved from the pre-hospital setting to the hospital setting. But, he notes, “I’ve always stayed in emergency and trauma care. What’s always kept me interested is that it’s very exciting.”
“When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. You have to be able to find a work-life balance. Prioritize, pick what needs to be done, and get it done well.”
Gallagher returned to La Salle, completing his MSN in 1999 before earning his Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. Through this time, he established his career in the world of trauma care with long stints at Cooper Medical Center and Crozer Chester Medical Center.
Today, he serves as the Trauma Program Manager for Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care, and Emergency Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Though his focus is now largely on nursing management and the operational end of healthcare systems, he continues to keep all of his clinical certifications and see patients when possible. The key to juggling so many roles, he says, is to love what you do. Then, “it doesn’t feel like work.” But, he adds, “it’s a balancing act. On some level, it consumes you 24 hours a day. You have to be able to find a work-life balance. Prioritize, pick what needs to be done, and get it done well.”
Gallagher says he was humbled by receiving the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award by La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “This wasn’t just an award for me. It was an award for everyone in my life who helped along the way—family, teachers and mentors, colleagues, and those who influenced me. He adds, “you don’t expect your work to be recognized. When you are, it allows you to sit back and realize how far you’ve come.”