For the April edition of H&HN, I'll be writing about how the increased pressures on hospital CEOs as of late — from reform implementation to cost pressures to new regulatory challenges — are making an already stressful job tougher than ever. I've been talking to a variety of hospital CEOs and management consultants, who recommended strategies ranging from more thorough succession planning to delegating key clinical and strategic responsibilities to other members of the senior leadership team.
What I've found most interesting, though, was the optimistic attitude of the three hospital CEOs I interviewed for the story. Granted, it would be hard to find a CEO who would admit that the stresses of the job are too much to handle — that's not something a CEO is going to want his board to come across during a Google search. But I was impressed by the optimism and opportunistic spirit of the CEOs I talked to. Here's some of what they have to say about stress and burnout:
Tony Armada, CEO of Advocate General Lutheran Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., urges leaders to fight stress by embracing the current wave of change:
"If you are a leader who has a hard time managing through rapid changes, then it will certainly add another stressor to your life because you have to do more with less. I don't believe the paradigm would be that you continue to do what you're doing and expect better results."
Robert Laskowski, M.D., president and CEO of Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., says that while he "tries to make sure there's balance in my life," the current challenges facing him and his institution represent the biggest chance at making an imprint in his 35-year career as a health care executive:
"This is the most exciting time I've been in in my career. There's the greatest opportunity to make a quantum leap in our ability to serve."
Robert Wise, CEO of Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J., says he understands why other CEOs may be considering retirement, but personally he's invigorated by the implementation of health reform and other changes to the health care delivery system.
"I can't ignore the challenges health reform is offering. From my point of view, I see it as an opportunity. For those who aren't ready to accept the challenge of a change in focus and a reinvigoration of the senior position, I can understand the opportunity presented to retire."
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