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Physicians, APs: How Long Has the CEO Been There?

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As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, one thing to consider before saying “yes” to an offer is the stability of the leadership at that particular hospital or practice.

While longevity on the part of the leadership can be a sign of entrenchment in the status quo, it can also be a sign of stability and vision.

For example, a year ago I interviewed Doug McMillan, chief executive officer of West Park Hospital (WPH) in Cody, Wyo., for Healthcare Executive Exchange Magazine.

WPH is a critical-access hospital located on the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park, and McMillan proved to be a rare breed among modern healthcare executives. At the time I interviewed him in 2014, he had held his title of CEO at WPH for more than 17 years.

In talking with him, I realized that his longevity had been anything but a hindrance to the hospital’s progress and had actually afforded it the benefit and perspective of hindsight. It also helped McMillan lead the organization through a long-term facility master-planning process that had begun in 2005.

The idea of a facility master plan was a revolutionary one for WPH. For the first eight years of McMillan’s tenure and prior to him becoming CEO, the organization had never drawn up a formal facility master plan.

“As we were putting together our strategic plan, we decided that we really needed to put together a facility master plan that was in alignment with our three-year strategic plan,” McMillan told me.

In 2014, WPH was preparing to implement the third and final phase of that plan. All three phases combined had totaled approximately $70 million.

“When you think of the textbook presentation of how a facility master-planning process should be developed and look, we’ve actually demonstrated it,” he said.

Like most facility master plans, McMillan said it wasn’t something the hospital could devour in one bite. Therefore, it was divided into the three phases.

We’ll look at how each of these three phases played out in upcoming posts. But the point here is: An executive’s longevity can actually lead an organization down a road of progress that completely changes it over time. When you encounter an organization where leadership turnover occurs frequently, there’s a chance that this particular organization is more accustomed to regression than progression.

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