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Nursing leadership network recognizes Jen Wagenaar

MountainStar's chief nursing executive receives UONL Legacy Leadership Award.

October 23, 2023
Jen Wagenaar holds her UONL Legacy Leadership Award.

Salt Lake City, Utah — The Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders recognized Jen Wagenaar, chief nursing executive for MountainStar Healthcare, with the UONL Legacy Leadership Award, the Utah health system announced. The honor highlights the impact of Wagenaar’s leadership on thousands of Utah nurses, as well as her work to advance the future of nursing.

“It’s so rewarding to get to spend my career supporting, empowering and developing caregivers,” Wagenaar said. “I’m so honored to have a respected organization like UONL recognize not just my passion, but really the commitment to nursing excellence across our 80 care sites in Utah.”

Wagenaar provides leadership and support to more than 3,700 nurses as the top nursing leader in HCA Healthcare‘s Mountain Division, which includes Utah’s MountainStar network as well as sister facilities in Alaska and Idaho. In addition to developing and inspiring nurses across the Mountain Division’s 11 hospitals, her work on pipeline, talent and education initiatives will impact nursing in Utah for generations, according to the nomination.

Wagenaar and other MountainStar and HCA Healthcare leaders transformed the nurse education landscape in Utah when they helped Galen College of Nursing open its new Draper campus this fall. Galen in a leading nurse educator in the U.S., and the new 31,920 sq. ft. campus offers the next generation of nurses a state-of-the-art, practice-based learning environment.

Wagenaar was also instrumental in bringing two HCA Healthcare Centers for Clinical Advancement to the Wasatch Front, and her testimony in the state legislature helped secure funding for clinical education programs in the last two state budgets. MountainStar also launched the Caregivers of Tomorrow program to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of employer-sponsored tuition for select higher education programs.

“This is a really interesting moment in the healthcare workforce area, both nationally and here in Utah,” Wagenaar stated. “Many of the communities we serve are among the fastest growing in the nation, and it’s critical that we nurture the talent pipeline in order to continue to meet the changing healthcare needs in the Beehive State.”

Beyond education initiatives, Wagenaar is still focused on making a difference for individual caregivers at the bedside, her nominators say.

“Jen spends time in each of our hospitals to understand how she can remove barriers to excellent care, address practice issues, and support nurses in their careers,” reads Wagenaar’s nomination, signed by the chief nursing officers at all eight Utah hospitals as well as division nursing leaders.

Wagenaar, they say, enjoys transforming care, advocating for nurses’ needs, and investing to help them grow professionally.

Originally from South Dakota, Wagenaar spent 14 years with Sanford Health System in various leadership roles before launching her HCA Healthcare career. She was the chief nursing officer at West Valley Medical Center, an HCA Healthcare facility in Caldwell, Idaho, and has been serving in her current role since 2017.

October 23, 2023