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ANN ARBOR, Michigan (March 19, 2009) – One of the great parts of my job is speaking to healthcare executives, early careerists and graduate management students across the country. For me, the real value is the opportunity to spend time with some very bright people like Dr. Christy Harris Lemak and discuss how we can improve our leadership and the performance of the organizations that we lead.

Today I spoke to a large group of graduate students at the University of Michigan’s top-rated health services administration program – the home of the legendary John Griffith, teacher, mentor, author, and renowned thought leader on the management of healthcare organizations. In so many ways, for so many years, Professor Griffith has set the standard for educating future healthcare leaders and for setting important standards for running a well managed hospital.

The University is paying tribute to his accomplishments through the development of the Griffith Leadership Center that will focus on health management and policy. Linda Grosh, the Center’s Managing Director, and other faculty members are planning some exciting and innovative initiatives. I will not step on the Center’s public relations thunder because so much of what they hope to do in the future is in active development. Suffice it to say that I think this Center will become an invaluable resource for healthcare CEOs who seek to adjust their leadership styles, values, and priorities to the varied challenges that will change and/or intensify with lightning speed during the span of their careers.

The University of Michigan is working hard to educate exceptional graduates – our future leaders – who will be less siloed, who will be more aggressive in challenging accepted systems and outcomes, and who will see opportunity that no one else sees. How timely, since we cannot afford to operate the world’s most expensive healthcare system with clinical and safety outcomes that are far from cutting edge.

In our world today, hospital CEOs are frustrated, doctors are unhappy, and employees are stressed. The current economic peril in which we find ourselves threatens to blur our focus on improving quality and ensuring safety. To make matters just a bit more interesting, business leaders, unions, pro-business trade groups and even industry insurance lobbyists all now agree that we can no longer afford our brand of healthcare. To make matters more interesting, some members of Congress seem to be trying to exert more control over the solution.

So to the many students and healthcare professionals that I have seen this year, and to the hundreds more that I will meet next week in Chicago when I speak at three sessions of the American College of Healthcare Executives annual Congress, I urge you to think critically about how we can reform our industry in a way that improves quality, safety and access while reducing costs. Speak out here, on the HealthCare Voice site, or any and all available venues. Please do not stand on the sideline while our trade association policy gurus, the Washington policy wonks, economists, business roundtable types, unions,insurance lobbyists and the other usual cast of suspects make decisions concerning the structure, delivery, and reimbursement of healthcare.

The vast majority who will weigh in on healthcare reform have never taken care of a patient, run a hospital or a long term care facility or managed a medical practice. It is extremely important that the aforemention list of healthcare reformers listen carefully to those of you who are in the trenches – those of you who can make considered and thoughtful recommendations.

John G. Self, Chairman and Founder of JohnMarch Partners, is the Firm’s senior client advisor. A 32-year veteran of the healthcare industry, he is a former investigative reporter and crime writer for a major daily newspaper. Candidates and clients say he is one of the most thorough executive recruiters working in the healthcare industry. You can reach John at 214.220.1234 or email him at

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