When it comes to leading rural hospitals and clinics, the phrase, "all hands on deck" often comes to mind. After all, we usually wear many hats compared with our colleagues who run metropolitan organizations. It takes incredible teamwork to provide the high quality and efficient care people living in rural America depend on every day. We need to be well-informed, innovative, inspired, expert and compassionate to lead through the uncertain times we live in today.

For more than 25 years, the Rural Health Care Leadership Conference sponsored by the American Hospital Association and Health Forum has provided all of us focused on rural health care the opportunity to learn, talk and network with others who are facing the same challenges. Last year, more than 600 people came to the warmth of the Arizona desert in the winter, breaking an attendance record.

Once again, the 2013 conference offers engaging speakers, contemporary topics and unique opportunities to learn from each other. In addition, Laura Woodburn, executive director of Health Forum's educational programs, and her team are always creating exciting activities for attendees. This year will feature three pre-conference workshops as well as a welcoming celebration of music, health and healing. Hot topic roundtable discussions and multiple recreational opportunities round out the agenda. Speaking of "all hands on deck," be sure to check out the brochure online at www.healthforum.com to see the gigantic lineup of more than 25 different sessions available this year. Some of the major themes include:

  • Understanding the impact of the changing environment on rural providers.
  • Exploring strategic collaborations to enhance clinical integration.
  • Clarifying the roles of trustees and providing tools for improving governance practices.
  • Creating a true culture of quality and safety, grounded in systems improvements.
  • Improving recruitment and retention by building an organization that engages partners and boasts a collaborative culture.
  • Exploring emerging technologies for improving care delivery and information technology.

Succeeding in rural communities requires strong and visionary leadership from members of the board, C-suite and medical staff. This conference will help you and your team gain practical advice and proactive ideas to better develop and lead your organization through increasingly complex and changing times for exceptional results.

I look forward to this conference every year and invite you to make plans to attend. Registration is now open for the 2013 Rural Health Care Leadership Conference Feb. 10–13, at family-friendly Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix. Join us for engaging discussions, excellent presenters and many opportunities to network with colleagues. I look forward to seeing you in the desert.

Todd Linden is president and CEO of Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center and a member of the Health Forum board of directors.



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