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Alumnus Profile: John Kristel

November 5, 2014

John Kristel“It might sound cliché, but it’s about fighting the human nature of not wanting to change,” said John Kristel, President and CEO of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and an alumnus of the Master of Physical Therapy Program at the Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions. When asked about his approach to taking charge of his own career, Kristel reminded us that, “The only thing you can count on is change.” He advocates for keeping up with the current literature in your field, consistently building and nurturing one’s network, and preparing for the inevitable changes that are most certainly coming in healthcare. “That said, don’t live in fear,” he ended.

Kristel is an exceptional leader, rising quickly to positions of great influence early on in his career. After graduating from Drexel with his MPT in 1997, he was hired as Director of Operations at Hahnemann University Hospital, where he served in that role until 2003. During that time, Kristel returned to school to begin working on his MBA in Healthcare Management at Temple University. From Hahnemann Hospital, Kristel moved on to serve as Director of Operations at Morristown Memorial Hospital before feeling the call to return to Philadelphia when an irresistible opportunity presented itself. Kristel moved back to take the position of Chief Operating Officer at what was then called The Graduate Hospital. Meanwhile, Kristel completed his MBA.

From The Graduate Hospital, Kristel became the Associate Chief Executive Officer of the Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, then the Chief Executive Officer of Berwick Hospital Center, followed by Chief Executive Officer of Carlisle Regional Medical Center- all within about seven years. In 2013, Kristel moved from Carlisle to take his current position as President and CEO of the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network.

This impressive run as a senior healthcare administrator has its roots in Kristel’s initial interest in the field of physical therapy. “I enjoyed fitness and being active,” he recalled. As a young physical therapy graduate in 1997, Kristel began working at Hahnemann Hospital as a physical therapist, during which time he also transitioned into hospital administration. Years later, he still carries his Drexel experiences with him and finds that his clinical education influences his career in management. “The training I received at Drexel prepared me to be analytic, to get a deep understanding of a problem and come up with a solution,” he said.

So how did Kristel land his current job at Good Shepard? “I saw that the previous CEO was retiring, so I expressed interest in the role,” he said. Kristel was proactive, and this ultimately earned him the job. “She was only the fourth CEO there in more than a hundred years, so I knew this had to be a good place to work.” Kristel said that he kept an eye on potential employers where leadership tend to stick around, as this can often be a sign of job satisfaction.

Kristel lives in the area with his wife and three children.

by Mary Kate O'Keefe