Keith Boettiger Visits the Career Lab

Keith Boettiger Visits the Career Lab

The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Career Lab hosted Keith Boettiger (BSN ’96), President of Abbott Neuromodulation, for a conversation about his career journey from nurse to health care executive.

The Anatomy of a Hopkins Nurse: Keith Boettiger


Johns Hopkins students and alumni can access the event recording on Handshake


On his decision to pivot into medical devices:

I knew I had a really strong clinical background and I thought that would give me a leg up. There’s a lot of business that goes on, but I thought my understanding of how to interact with patients and physicians would really help me.


On how his nursing background helped in this career transition:

I attribute a lot of my success to dealing with doctors and patients in tough situations, which helped me build confidence and earn my clinician colleagues’ respect. I like to make decisions, I knew I wanted to run a company and be part of the team that thought up new devices to help patients, figured out how to develop them, and then build them into quality products. Most medical device companies think about the disease and treating it, but my insight from nursing was to keep the patient at the center of everything we do. So my team thinks about how we’re how we can make these devices better for the patient, so they can do better in the long run from an efficacy and psychological standpoint.


On how he primed himself for career mobility:

I started off as a sales rep, and it can be hard to go from that to running a big business. I positioned myself for future roles by learning about the other responsibilities I would take on. I spent time with a VP of Marketing so I could better understand that function. When I was in a marketing role, I took steps to better understand the operations, manufacturing, and distribution and how to work with vendors that supply the raw material. I wasn’t afraid to approach people that were in those positions so that I could learn from them.

A lot of getting a job is building connections, I would have never gotten into medical devices if I didn’t have friends in it. Now, people reach out to me on LinkedIn all the time. I’m not necessarily the hiring manager, but if someone goes out on a limb, expresses their interest in medical devices, and asks questions, I at least give them an introduction to a person who could hire them.


On unique career opportunities for JHSON graduates:

There are a lot of opportunities. At Abbott, nurses work in clinical trials, the regulatory environment (understanding the patients and technology), medical affairs (considering the patient and ensuring quality decisions), and reimbursement (health economics of how patients get reimbursed and hospitals get paid). Some of these roles require a particular background, like research or experience as a nurse practitioner in a pain or primary care setting. You may have to learn an additional set of skills. But the leadership skills that you build at Johns Hopkins and develop being a nurse, will apply to almost anything you want to do.


Brought to you by the Career Lab

The Career Lab fosters exploration and learning related to professional development. To access helpful resources, register for career events, schedule career coaching appointments, and view job postings, please visit Handshake. Alumni interested in sharing their career journey can contact the Career Lab at [email protected].

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