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Interim Healthcare Leaders

Why Be One/How To be an Effective One

Interim Healthcare leaders are typically needed when an organization is in the midst of a change. Something has happened. There can be a whole host of situations from an unplanned executive vacancy, upcoming Joint Commission, a special project requiring special expertise, a health system crisis to the Board of Directors deciding to bring in a fresh set of eyes. Regardless, as an interim healthcare leader, you are the new leader in a transition. You are the one the organization is relying on to effect changes competently, efficiently, effectively, and often diplomatically. A daunting task for both you and the hospital.

So, you have decided you are up for the challenge. 42% of interim healthcare executives have 20 plus years in their chosen field. Most have an advance degree of one type or another (86%) from master’s level or beyond. Many are at or near retirement and not ready to take that path yet or may just want a change or a challenge. There are 5 basic reasons people report choosing the interim executive path:

  • Control: When you work, where you work and who you work for
  • Flexibility: Interim work offers lifestyle flexibility like extended time off between assignments
  • Satisfaction: Making a difference, adding value to a team, fresh challenges are all appealing
  • Generally high compensation
  • Travel: New locations, new people

3 key areas of expertise in high demand

  1. Clinical Operations: Care coordination, streamlining, survey readiness
  2. Finance: Performance and margin improvement, revenue cycle and overall office streamlining
  3. Management and Leadership development including health needs assessments

What does a successful Interim Healthcare Leader look like?

  • Adaptability/unflappability
  • Highly developed critical thinking ability
  • Initiative-taking and great time manager
  • Ability to implement change without ego and with diplomacy
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Desire to empower and develop others to their full potential

In addition, you are highly experienced, unbiased, overqualified, sensitive, objective and decisively firm. Your role is the short-term White Knight.

Maximizing your contribution can be summarized in these 5 areas

  1. Visibility: Make the rounds, meet with staff as soon as possible. Talk with stake holders, front line and even reception staff.
  2. Accessibility: Established office hours available to every shift. Interoffice communications. Requests for improvements or complaints with the proviso that the respondent sign their name and as such, will be invited to discuss the situation
  3. Radiate Positive energy: You are here to help not hinder
  4. Communication: Be transparent with your assessment of a situation and be a channel for constructive input

In addition to information gathering, day to day strategies should include methods for communicating goals as well as situations that are known by all yet can not be fixed in the short-term. In other words, you can’t do everything. Offering a ‘yes’ more than a ‘no’ breeds positivity as well as trust. Listen with both ears and one mouth. Existing staff are on the ground in the hospital and very often have valuable insight into what works and what does not.

As an interim healthcare leader, you are under a microscope. The physicians, nurses, and executive staff are expecting results. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Follow-through and accountability establish trust. Do not make unrealistic promises. Internal Communication to all levels of staff, all shifts, all levels of care can significantly increase the effectiveness of your tenure. It is important to acquaint yourself with and be respectful of the culture, mission and values of the hospital you are serving. It also important to acknowledge nay-sayers without taking it on board. They are always there, usually not helpful but once acknowledged, will generally support you. Always, the ability to exude positivity and competence cannot be over stressed. Most importantly, enjoy the time you have at this facility and take pride in making a difference.

NHS Solutions has been providing Interim Healthcare Leaders to hospitals across the United States for well over a decade. Contact us to discuss the benefits of becoming an Interim Nurse Leader or to begin a search for an Interim Leader to fill a gap in your organization. We cover a broad spectrum of healthcare clinical and non-clinical specialties.