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High CEO Turnover, No Succession Planning Plague Hospitals

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 12, 2012

The nation's hospitals are seeing continued relatively high leadership turnover, but most providers are doing little if anything to plan for it. 

Thomas C. Dolan, president/CEO of the American College of Healthcare Executives, says a new survey from his organization tracked hospital CEO turnover at 16% nationwide in 2011, the same as in 2010. Between 2001 and 2009, he says, CEO turnover has run between 14% and 18% nationally.

By comparison, average annual CEO turnover is about 13% for Fortune 100 companies, he says.

Dolan has a ready explanation for the high turnover. "First of all, in general they are very difficult jobs and they have never been harder with healthcare reform and demands from the various stakeholders often conflicting in nature," he says.

"Secondly, if you are good at one of these jobs you get recruited constantly."

"Third, unfortunately if you are not good, there is little tolerance for poor performance. As best we can figure out about 20% of those 16% who turn over every year are being terminated," he says.  

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