Hochman suggests hospitals should consider the notion that not every person needs carbon-copy experience to reach a hospital's highest leadership level. He's proof that many different routes can work; Hochman didn't go to business school, but since practically his first job, he's said yes to every nonclinical position that's come his way. Gabbe, too, endorses the on-the-job learning approach. "Do you need to have an MBA or an advanced degree?" he asks. "Some of my colleagues do. The majority probably don't."
It's a tricky time in healthcare, and when it comes to reimbursement, hospitals may soon see the bottom drop out. Whoever's in charge needs the ability to work well with all hospital staff and move smoothly forward with the changes. As more hospitals have begun to learn, having a physician as CEO helps, Purcell says. "It doesn't mean they're [automatically] going to be successful. But it gives
them instant credibility once they walk into a room."
Michele Wilson is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders Media.