President's Message, 3rd Qtr 2012

Alaska Healthcare Executives – I hope everyone had a great summer, and came through both rounds of the September “Severe Wind” events with minimal impact on both the work and home fronts. Now as we all get ready for the change of seasons, I wanted to provide you an overview of some of the recent AHEN happenings during the 3rd qtr:

August 2012: The ACHE cluster held Aug. 6-9 at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage was well attended.  There were two Face-to-Face sessions: the first offering was Physician Integration Strategies: Advanced Lessons from Successful Organizations. Focus - to discover best practices to effectively bridge gaps between hospital and physician interests. The second offering was Possibilities, Probabilities, and Creative Solutions: Breakthrough Thinking for Complex Environments. Focus – to realize better bottom-line results with breakthrough strategies that incorporate innovation and creativity. Comments I received from attendees at both sessions were very favorable.

September 2012: The annual AHEN Face-to-Face educational session was held September 4-5 on the front end of the Alaska State Hospital & Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA) annual meeting. This year’s education session was Managing Conflict, Confrontations and Disputes. The presenter, Stacy Nelson EdD, took us through the Crucial Confrontations course (NOTE: there is another course – Crucial Conversations) that was focused on knowing which crucial confrontations to hold and described the process for how to hold those confrontations. There were 28 folks in attendance; and the overall course evaluation was 4.7; with a 4.9 rating for the instructor (5-point scale). A special thanks to our sponsors, whose contributions made it possible to deliver this excellent learning opportunity to AHEN members for free! Thank you:

Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association
Alaska Regional Hospital
Providence Health and Services Alaska
Fairbanks Memorial Hospital
Alaska Native Medical Center

October-December 2012: Please join us for our bi-monthly "Lunch & Learn" article sessions in October and December and for the quarterly "Qualified Education" presentation in November. Please check out the 2012 Master Calendar and other information on the AHEN website at: AHEN Website.

Call for nominations to serve on the 2013 Board: An email will go out in September to all AHEN members soliciting interest to serve on the 2013 Board. If you want to get involved in the chapter, and help shape AHEN activities for 2013, please let us know.

Delivering healthcare in Alaska brings unique challenges, as well as, opportunities for networking and collaboration among healthcare professionals. Stay connected and engaged with each other – let AHEN help you do it!   

All the best!
Vic Rosenbaum, MHA, FACHE

Message from Your ACHE Regent - Fall 2012

Vivian A. Echavarria, FACHE, Alaska Regent

Our transition to fall has been rainier and windier than most. As we prepare for the upcoming change in our season…yes, Alaska does have a change in seasons. Unlike most states, preparation is the key to readiness.
Regent Awards Presented

Regent Awards were presented at the annual meeting on September 4, 2012 of the Alaska Healthcare Executives Network preceding the statewide Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association. The two Senior-Level Healthcare Executive awards were presented to Karl H. Sanford, FACHE and Major Stephen J. Williams, RN, FACHE. Karl’s leadership and contributions led him to serve as volunteer sub-regional liaison for our Alaska chapter. Through his oversight and support, healthcare executives in the interior region participate in chapter continuing education opportunities. Major Williams’ leadership in sustaining our continued efforts as a chapter to offering our healthcare leaders 12 hours of ACHE Face-to-Face continuing education offering that was held in conjunction with ASHNA meeting. Please congratulate your colleagues in these achievements to advancing leadership in healthcare management. Each volunteer opportunity requires the preparation and dedication for success.  Your colleagues clearly demonstrate these great qualities.

ACHE Strategic Plan Update

The ACHE board approved the 2012-2014 Strategic Plan following the review of input from Regents, chapter presidents and other members. It is posted on The changes reflect the following additions to the current initiatives:

  • Added an initiative to establish a Career Development Task Force to define ACHE’s role in advising, mentoring and coaching members to support their career development needs. It is anticipated that the task force will deliver a final report by December 2013;
  • Added an initiative to explore the use of technology to improve members’ access to ACHE’s program, products and services that are relevant to their professional needs, and
  • Added an initiative to pursue enterprise level performance excellence through a systematic process of performance improvement (using the Baldrige program criteria).

The 2013-2015 Strategic Plan is now under review and will be finalized this November. Our Alaska Chapter, the Alaska Healthcare Executives Network, has a strategic plan that serves to guide us as leaders to accomplish the goals set by your colleagues. Join our efforts and volunteer to support your local chapter. We value your input. 

ACHE Educational Scholarships

The previous Regent Tuition Waiver Program has been replaced with ACHE educational scholarships to members based on economic hardship. Should any member of our Alaska chapter have a need based on hardship, please don’t hesitate to contact me. There are new timelines specified so prepare early. 


Change of the season brings on news for our healthcare leadership nationally. The use of the term “Affiliates” creates confusion among ACHE members. The term will no longer be used. Instead the term “Member” will be referenced.

Please contact me via phone call (907) 729-1991 or email should you have questions or need any of the support material. 

National News - Fall 2012

Save the Date for the 2013 Congress on Healthcare Leadership: March 11–14 at the Chicago Hilton and Palmer House Hilton

ACHE’s Congress on Healthcare Leadership brings you the best in professional development, exceptional opportunities to network with and learn from peers, and the latest information to enhance your career and address your organization’s challenges in innovative ways.

Nearly 4,700 healthcare leaders attended the 2012 Congress on Healthcare Leadership. Join us in 2013 and experience the energy of an event that draws the top healthcare leaders from across the nation and around the world.

This premier healthcare leadership event provides:

  • Education on current and emerging issues
  • More than 140 sessions of practical learning from healthcare’s top leaders
  • Opportunities to connect with your peers
  • Career-enhancement workshops

The opening date for Congress registration and to reserve hotel accommodations is Nov. 13, 2012.

Tuition Waiver Assistance Program

To reduce the barriers to ACHE educational programming for members experiencing economic hardship, ACHE has established the Tuition Waiver Assistance Program.

ACHE makes available a limited number of tuition waivers to ACHE Members and Fellows whose organizations lack the resources to fund their tuition for education programs. Members and Fellows in career transition are also encouraged to apply. Tuition waivers are granted on the basis of financial need and are available for the following ACHE education programs:

  • Congress on Healthcare Leadership
  • Cluster seminars
  • Self-Study Program courses
  • Online seminars
  • Online Tutorial (preparation for taking the Board of Governors Examination in Healthcare Management)
  • ACHE Board of Governors Exam Review Course

All requests are due no earlier than 16 weeks and no later than eight weeks before the program date, except for ACHE self-study courses, which have quarterly application deadlines. Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Recipients will be notified not less than six weeks before the program date. For ACHE self-study courses, applicants will be notified three weeks after the quarterly application deadline.

Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document, which is attached. If you have additional questions about the program, please contact Teri Somrak, associate director, Division of Professional Development, at (312) 424-9354 or  For more information, visit

Complimentary Resources for Members Seeking to Pass Board of Governors Exam

For Members starting on the journey to attain board certification, ACHE offers complimentary resources to help them succeed so they can be formally recognized for their competency, professionalism, ethical decision making and commitment to lifelong learning. These resources, which include the Exam Online Community, the Board of Governors Examination in Healthcare Management Reference Manual and quarterly Advancement Information webinars, are designed to be supplements to other available Board of Governors Exam study resources, such as the Board of Governors Review Course and Online Tutorial. 

  • The Exam Online Community is an interactive platform to learn and glean study tips from other Members taking the Exam. It also provides the opportunity to discuss Exam topics with experts and the option to participate in study groups. Interested Members may join the Exam Online Community at
  • The Reference Manual, found at, includes a practice 230-question exam and answer key; a list of recommended readings; and test-taker comments, study hints and tips.
  • Fellow Advancement Information webinars provide a general overview of the advancement to Fellow process, including information about the Board of Governors Exam, and allow participants to ask questions about the advancement process. An upcoming session is scheduled for December 6. Register online at

Looking for Information About Health Reform?

The ACHE Healthcare Reform Resources section on is dedicated to helping you find resources to address reform challenges. Exclusively for ACHE members, the guide is intended to provide the knowledge and insight necessary to lead your organization through the challenges leaders face today. It is not intended to be all-inclusive, but rather an ever-evolving tool with regularly-updated resources to address your concerns, develop your skills and meet the demands of the changing environment.

To further facilitate browsing, the resources have been organized into 10 topic areas, including delivering accountable care, meeting clinical staffing demands, implementing IT solutions and more.

Access the guide today.

When Change is Afoot, Help Your Staff Get On Board

Reorganizations, mergers and layoffs are facts of life in business. So are their consequences: demoralization, absenteeism and turnover. There is not much you can do about the cause, but you may reduce the side effects with these change-management strategies:

  • Be prepared. When workers ask whether things will change, do not say, “I hope not,” or, “I don’t think so.” Of course, things will change. Even if the specific thing they fear never comes to pass, sooner or later something will happen to rock their world. Rather than sticking your head in the sand, suggest that workers think through how they would respond if changes occurred. They will feel more confident if they can prepare for whatever comes.
  • Be realistic. Although you do not want to greet changes with fear and loathing, it is equally unhealthy to view them through rose-colored glasses. For instance, do not assume remaining workers will be doubly productive after layoffs because they are grateful to still have jobs. In all likelihood, they will be shell-shocked, resentful and less productive.
  • Be open. Discuss changes with your staff and reassure them it is okay to be honest about what they are feeling. If you act like it is business as usual, workers may feel they have to suppress their emotions. By acknowledging their fear or anger, you can help them to release those feelings and adapt more quickly to their new environment.
  • Be forthright. During times of change it is crucial to frequently communicate with workers. Tell them what you can as soon as you can—or else the rumor mill will take up the slack. By being honest and forthcoming, you can help allay their fears and secure their respect.
  • Be creative. Solicit employee input on how best to deal with workplace changes such as the loss of key personnel or an increased workload. Working together to creatively solve any problems that arise will help your staff maintain a sense of teamwork and help them feel they are managing change, rather than falling victim to it.

—Adapted from Communication Solutions,
August 2012; (800) 878-5331;

Join the ACHE Official Group on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking tool to help members exchange information, build contacts and share ideas. Join the ACHE Official Group on LinkedIn today to make new business contacts with other ACHE members and enhance your current relationships with a growing online network of leaders in the healthcare field. This group is exclusively for ACHE members.

To join the ACHE Official Group on LinkedIn, you must have a profile. To create a profile, visit Once you have completed your profile, you are ready to join your colleagues around the country.

Click here to get started now.

How to Address the Elephant in the Room

There you are, just sitting in the conference room minding your own business and waiting for the meeting to start. Then in it comes—a gray, 10,000-pound, trunk-swinging monstrosity. To your dismay, it plants itself firmly in the center of the room. The meeting begins as expected, but everyone’s attention is drawn to the unwelcome centerpiece. As the meeting concludes, everyone is only vaguely aware of what was said because they were too distracted by what was not said.

We have all experienced the elephant in the room—a situation where everyone avoids a looming and important issue. Unaddressed issues of such gravity foster confusion and make everyone distracted, preoccupied and even fearful. These emotions consume time and impede productivity.

Many prefer to avoid the unsettling emotions that come with addressing the elephant in the room. But it is a leader’s responsibility to confront the elephant head on to avoid its damaging effects on productivity. If your group is without a leader—or at least one who is willing to take action—an elephant in the room is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your leadership skills.

Recognizing the elephant is an important first step, but the challenge comes in addressing the elephant in a manner that enables everyone to discuss the issue comfortably and move past it. The strategies that follow show you how to do just this.

1. Make sure it is an elephant. Thinking carefully before you speak is especially important if you want to address an elephant. Before you bring the issue to the group, you need to make sure it is an elephant for everyone. Bringing up an unsettling topic that was not on everyone’s mind may create a new elephant. Try consulting with another member of the group to verify that others also see the elephant. This critical test of your social awareness skills will ensure that you are all on the same page, which will allow you to begin planning an appropriate approach to the topic. If you and your ally agree an elephant in the room exists, consider the ramifications of clearing the air, including the reactions you are likely to see from various members of the group. Brainstorming with an ally will not only prepare you for talking with the larger group but also boost your confidence in addressing this necessary issue.

2. Make a plan and stick to it. Bringing up an uncomfortable or controversial topic often produces a flood of emotions in yourself and those around you. Having a concrete plan ready beforehand will enable you to maintain the clear head you need to manage the discussion. An effective plan includes two basic elements: what you are going to say and when you are going to say it. First, decide what needs to be said, jotting down these important points. Organize these points conceptually to keep the conversation focused and on topic. Next, carefully evaluate the ideal timing for each of your points. Good timing will ensure your audience is as receptive as possible to discussing the elephant.

When the time finally arrives to have the discussion, remember to stick to your plan so that an emotional hijacking does not occur and lead you astray from naming, discussing and moving forward from the elephant in the room.

3. Be direct, honest and thorough. A difficult issue becomes an elephant in the room when it is ignored, despite everyone being aware of it. By naming what everyone is avoiding, you will transform the elephant into an obstacle that the group can tackle. Be open with the group and present the details to the best of your knowledge. Directly spell out the truth about what the elephant really is, in its entirety. It is essential to be straightforward about all of the information, even if it is unpleasant. Tiptoeing around even small aspects of the issue will only perpetuate the tension surrounding the elephant. Being direct enables you to manage others’ perceptions and prevent the elephant from becoming distorted by rumors. Being direct, honest and thorough shows respect for your audience and builds their trust in you as a leader.

4. Open up the discussion. Once you have had the opportunity to clear the air, it is time to open the floor to others. Like you, your audience has many concerns about the elephant in the room and needs to express them. Use your social awareness to determine the most appropriate timing for giving others a chance to respond. Before doing so, be sure that you convey every point that you had planned to convey. Presenting a thorough description of the elephant will ensure that the session continues to move forward rather than becoming a rehashing of false information. Asking the group members to share their input and concerns regarding the issue displays consideration for their perspective and creates unity in solving the problem. This open-forum approach allows the group to discuss a once “forbidden” subject and sets the tone for continuing to speak about the issue to prevent it from reverting to “elephant” status.

5. Closure. Memories of an event are shaped by the moment where the emotion peaks and by how things come to a close—regardless of how many road bumps are hit along the way. Before the meeting concludes, be sure that you have discussed all facets of the elephant and that everyone understands the issue at hand. Make a plan together for how the issue will be tackled going forward. When people leave feeling confident about the discussion because lingering questions were addressed and the next steps are clear, the elephant is unlikely to continue as a distraction. Even if the discussion of the elephant in the room was a rocky one, ensuring closure is a sure-fire way to give everyone confidence that brighter days lie ahead.

Adapted from an article by Travis Bradberry, PhD, and Nicole Wolfe, August 2011.

Find Out Who's Waiting to Welcome You

You never know who you will meet at your local ACHE Chapter - a welcoming place where you can connect with other healthcare leaders in a professional, friendly and supportive environment.

You will also find many opportunities to learn and grow in your career at a convenient location closer to home, saving you time and money on travel.

Connect Today. Contact our chapter leadership to find out who's waiting to welcome you.

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