In Demand: A Different Kind of CEO

Philip Betbeze, May 23, 2014

Hospital CEO has been the dream job for healthcare administrators for decades. But the top job increasingly isn't the top anymore, as organizations merge, holding companies morph into operating companies, and metrics for success change. Can you adapt?

Hospital CEO has been the dream job toward which thousands of healthcare administrators have strived for decades. Opportunities for advancement have usually been good, and jobs at the top have been relatively plentiful and relatively stable, for at least a couple of generations. The role of hospital CEO has always carried status—in many communities, the hospital CEO leads the area's largest employer, after all. You're considered a pillar of your community, and the remuneration hasn't been bad, either.

At that level, you get to run the show, make strategic decisions, and demonstrate your skills, often acquired over decades in lower levels of responsibility in that organization or others.

But the pipeline to the top might be drying up, or at least not running anywhere close to the capacity it did until recently. Part of that is because the top job increasingly isn't the top anymore, as smaller organizations continue the quickening pace toward consolidation with larger and larger partners. Even in organizations that have already been subsumed into larger organizations, the freedom to operate independently of the larger organization is rapidly being constrained as those holding companies morph into operating companies.

So now, all of those positive attributes of the hospital CEO job are in flux.

Are hospital CEOs becoming an endangered species?

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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