The time it takes to find a new executive leadership position in healthcare is becoming longer as competition for available positions intensifies. 

From outright closures, to contraction and consolidation, there are fewer executive level hospital management jobs in the United States than there were just 10 years ago. 


The loss of executive jobs is exacerbated by an exponential increase in the number of graduate management programs

If you go back in time to the early 1980s there were nearly 6,000 hospitals in the US. By 2017that number had declined to 4,749, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

In the rural hospital segment the number of closures began to accelerate starting in 2010. Industry analysts say the outlook for the dozens of inner-city safety net hospitals that operate without direct government subsidies is bleak.

The loss of executive jobs is exacerbated by an exponential increase in the number of graduate management programs in healthcare that each year pour dozens of additional would be executives into the job market.

Dozens, Sometimes Hundreds, Apply For Leadership Jobs

For every job that posts, there are dozens, or hundreds, of applicants.  Widespread Baby Boomer retirements that would theoretically offset this imbalance have yet to occur.  

I can remember when the job search timeline was less than four months, or six at the most.  Now the time it takes to land a new gig is at least six months to more than a year, or longer for executives who may have a  career glitch or two to overcome.  

This is not the message anyone wants to hear, especially those executives in health systems that will inevitably have to reduce their overhead costs. 

Most Laid Off Executives Woefully Underprepared

When layoffs or terminations occur, most executives are woefully underprepared. Even for those lucky enough to receive career transition/outplacement benefits in their severance agreement, there is usually a two month or so lag — overcoming grief and anger and then the time it takes to get prepared to go to market.  Based on our observations from executive searches we have conducted over the last two years, only one in twenty candidates are truly prepared for the possibility that they may experience a career change.  In what was once known as a “layoff resistant” industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the I am bulletproof  mindset carried little or no penalty. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Today, hospitals are talking about emergency preparedness for cyber attacks and digital blackmail, to catastrophic weather events.  Executives should pay attention to their own careers.  Career preparedness can be just as critical as emergency preparedness.