Dustin Scholz grew up on a dairy farm in Stuart, Nebraska, a town of 650 in the north-central area of the state.
“I had that small-town-ingrained work ethic from Day 1,” Scholz said.
While his father ran the farm, his mother taught school before becoming a social worker for The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in Atkinson.
“I have a unique history of growing up in the Good Samaritan Society,” he said. “From my earliest memories, I recall going up with my mom to the nursing home where I joke that I was ‘voluntold’ what to do.”
Later, his father sold the dairy farm and became an electrician. He eventually took a position with the Society as director of environmental services.
While growing up around long-term care and its residents, Scholz had no idea it would become a career. He started in high school and has since worked for the Society for 27 years. Now he is the Society’s regional vice president for Iowa.
Joining the Society
Scholz attended college at Mount Marty in Yankton, South Dakota, earning two degrees, one in business and one in health care administration.
He attributes his career choice and decision to pursue that career with the Society to a mentor in Atkinson. That mentor offered him internship hours and spoke highly of the Society’s mission- and faith-based work, both qualities that were important to Scholz.
Already employed with the Society, he applied for an administrative role and completed his training in Syracuse, Nebraska. Mott, North Dakota, and Austin and Pipestone, Minnesota, followed before Scholz’s arrival at National Campus in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he worked in marketing and senior living. Then, he became senior director of operations prior to taking on his current role as regional vice president for Iowa.
Serving as a bridge
In his current position, Scholz is responsible for outcomes at the rehab, skilled and senior-living facilities in Iowa — managing budgets, staffing buildings and ensuring care is done well.
“I really view the role of a regional vice president as a bridge between National Campus and our locations, really being that conduit that keeps things flowing both ways,” he said.
“I really look at how we’re meeting our patients’, residents’ and clients’ needs and is there any way we can do that better. If there is, I bring that back to those that might be able to help us do that. On the flip side, I look at all the exciting things happening at an enterprise level and bring those back to our locations.”
Scholz spends a lot of time on the road, traveling to all of the locations — 19 of them — and dealing with day-to-day challenges.
Mission, faith and service driven
Scholz has always been mission, faith and service driven and most enjoys being able to live that out in his work. He also enjoys the relationships with staff and patients, residents and clients.
“There are staff out there committed, dedicated and hardworking providing a lot of care to very vulnerable individuals. It’s their calling, and I enjoy being able to do anything I can to support them in their purpose,” Scholz said.
“Those relationships have been a lasting treasure to me, and so I’m more intentional about how I build relationships. Some of my best friends and mentors in life have been co-workers. Honestly, the people I work with I would consider family. I encourage others to build those relationships and invest in them — it will pay dividends in professional, faith and personal aspects.”
Integrated care of the future
Looking forward, Scholz is excited about the integrated health model and care across the lifespan.
“It provides us with an incredible opportunity, and we as leaders need to mature that concept in order for it to be successful. It will really change how health care is delivered — hopefully more efficiently and more effectively,” said Scholz.
“Right now, it’s probably as busy as it has ever been. At the same time, it is probably as exciting as it has ever been, and the opportunities are probably as big as they have ever been.”
His wife, Kellie, works for the Society. They have two daughters: Aliyah, 6, and Audra, 3.
His family enjoys camping and being outside in general. Scholz also enjoys cooking for people, particularly barbecuing.
In family life, it’s difficult not to talk about work, given that his parents and wife serve the Society. But his work is deeply integrated into his life, and he’s energized by those around him who come to work with purpose, which gets him up every morning.
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