From nursing to procurement

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Here employees can take charge of their own careers

One might think that people who have chosen a profession in healthcare have found their path in life. And stay on this path. The Cantonal Hospital of Graubünden has a different perspective. Here, employees can take their careers in a new direction. They might switch from medicine to IT, for example. Three former nurses and one doctor discuss their career paths.

From operating theatre to office chair

Many of us have the utmost respect for nurses, not least because of the coronavirus pandemic. Michel Güttler certainly understands this. He was, after all, a nurse for 12 years. “I worked in emergency care and in the operating theatre. There are of course quite a few broken bones to deal with around here.” Seven years ago he then stumbled into project management by chance. “I wanted to try something new and switch from the operating table to the other side of projects. I understand what projects entail along with the various processes because I know the hospital and the requirements from experience.” This ideal set of conditions has allowed him to now work as a project manager who coordinates the procurement of the larger equipment items he was surrounded with each day working in surgery. Although his two positions could not have been more different, they do have something in common: the human factor. “Instead of patients, now I simply interact with other project managers.”


Image: Michel Güttler

Taking care of emergencies, preparing surgeries, coordinating acquisitions

If there is anyone who can claim to know the Cantonal Hospital of Graubünden inside and out, it is Martin Zurburg. He took up his first nursing job in 1985. While working in the intensive care unit, he even got to witness the arrival of the first PC at the hospital. Because he and his wife, who also works in nursing, rarely saw each other due to the shift schedule, the avid paragliding enthusiast decided to switch from the intensive care unit to surgery. And then from the surgery to procurement. Why the switch to procurement? “I love the variety of challenges involved with procurement. When I started back in 2000, SAP had just been introduced. This offered an enormous opportunity to scrutinise and refine old processes and then migrate them to this ‘new’ platform. I became familiar with the materials and instruments we purchase while working as a nurse in the ICU and surgery.” Today, there are 60 employees in the procurement and logistics division. What did it take to make this change happen? “Initiative and willpower. But also the hospital’s willingness to provide further training opportunities in all directions.”

A one-way ticket from University Hospital Zurich to the office in Chur

Zurich native Regula Rigort has always enjoyed being in Graubünden to pursue her many outdoor hobbies. Two years ago she also moved there to make a career change. “I spent 20 years as a nursing specialist in the intensive care unit and then eight years coordinating transplants and organ donations. It was time for something new.” And change is what she found here. Now she supervises an entire team and a wide range of specialist areas, such as the hospital’s nutrition counselling and social services. “The intensive care unit was quite interesting, stressful and exciting all at the same time. Now I’m in the office. My jobs couldn’t have been more different.” She does not have any plans to go back, even if the profession is quite rewarding on a human level. “Working in the intensive care unit again during the pandemic was stimulating, but only because I was able do something different again afterwards.” “Unfortunately, not enough people want to go into nursing. It is extremely demanding, physically and socially. That’s why it’s important for prospective nurses to know that they also have other opportunities within the same institution.” What does the Zurich native particularly like about the Cantonal Hospital of Graubünden? “I get to work among highly qualified experts, but the atmosphere is still familial.”

Image: left Lukas Dürst, right Martin Zurburg

A doctor today, a computer scientist tomorrow

Ask Lukas Dürst, Deputy Senior Physician of Internal Medicine, where medicine and computer science intersect, and he responds with another question: “Where don’t they intersect?” Nevertheless, communication between the two areas is a challenge that Lukas Dürst has tackled. “The clinician brings an idea to the table; the IT expert builds something from that. But often the two sides do not speak quite in the same terms.” Computer science has fascinated the doctor since his youth. “The complex reasoning applied in medicine is also needed in computer science. I enjoy that. As a link between the two, I increasingly ended up in a dual role.” At first, computer science was simply a “minor duty” but eventually took up one full day a week. Since October 2021, Lukas Dürst splits his time 50/50 between the two roles. “It’s a constant learning process and requires a lot of flexibility on my part and of the hospital in order for me to devote equal attention to both jobs.” Having separate spaces helps. He works as a doctor in the main building and then spends his IT days at an office located in the city centre. “We’re replacing the current hospital information system at the moment. This takes a lot of conceptual work and meetings with the various divisions.” On top of this, the physician soon plans to complete further training, allowing him to delve even deeper into the world of computer science.


Whether caring for patients, optimising processes or digitalising workflows, at the Cantonal Hospital of Graubünden the well-being of people is always first priority. And if a person ever feels the need to make a change, they need not travel far either.