A childhood illness was the stepping stone to Georgia State University alumna Fran Fowler’s nursing career. When she was seven, Fowler ruptured her appendix and had to undergo surgery.
“I can still remember the surgery staff assuring me that I was safe and they would personally take care of me while I was asleep. I thought then – and I still do – that people who could impart such compassion and kindness were extra special,” she says.
Now, CEO of Fowler Healthcare Affiliates, Inc. and advisory board chair for the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions, Fowler is a second generation American and the first in her family to achieve an education beyond high school.
“My parents were hard working, frugal and pragmatic. In my senior year, my father took me aside and let me know the facts of life. ‘One needed to have a way to make one’s way in the world no matter what happened.’ Combined with limited financial resources, I had two choices: teaching and nursing. The choice was easy – nursing.”
Graduating from Georgia State in 1974, she gravitated toward high-intensity emergency room jobs, working a few short stints in Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia. As a practicing nurse, she served as curriculum coordinator for an international nursing program at Emory University, gaining insight and a different perspective in culture, healthcare and current nursing practices. Fowler then moved to a private company conducting educational sessions for nurse managers. There, she saw an opportunity for a consulting career and became the first female consultant in the healthcare division of an international consulting firm, which had more than 110 male consultants.
As principal at that company, Fowler expanded her knowledge in business, reimbursement and the other financial aspects of healthcare. Her clinical background gave her an advantage over others, enabling her to understand the implications of management decisions, predict outcomes and to take actions that would benefit her clients. With this professional confidence, Fowler created her own firm.
Fowler Healthcare Affiliates is an international consulting firm that works with healthcare systems to define new healthcare services and improve specialty services. The firm has worked with over 600 providers, both nationally and internationally, with a yearly revenue of approximately $2 million.
Like the success of Fowler Healthcare Affiliates, The Lewis School achieved new heights under Fowler’s leadership. Under her direction, the advisory board implemented the Dean’s Circle to recognize donors who make significant financial commitments. These leadership gifts allow the school to grow support of eminent faculty, groundbreaking research and high-caliber students. The advisory board reached an unprecedented 100 percent participation in the Dean’s Circle levels.
Fowler is proud to say that without the support of her husband of 47 years “her success would not have been possible.” They met on a blind date. Joe Fowler had a very successful career in marketing and pharmaceutical management. He thought he was marrying a traditional female who was involved in health care but later learned and appreciated that Fran was very much a woman who was destined to be successful.
Since those early days of making her choice of a nursing career, Fowler has seen the constant transformation of the nursing field. She is grateful for everything and everyone that helped her through her career and as a tribute to her parents, Fowler has endowed The Frank and Regina Kulig Endowed Professorship in Nursing. The planned gift was established to ensure that the legacy is continued in memory of her parents who believed in education and the difference it can make in one’s life and the importance of making a way in the world.
“The future of nursing has never been brighter,” Fowler says.