ACHCA conference attendees share struggles, confront membership challenges

Healthcare administrators are a tough breed. Anyone who’s been in the industry for even a short time knows that. As an observer at The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) 45th Annual Convocation and Exposition in New Orleans this past weekend, I got a brief but insightful look into their world.

The conference is as much a reunion of battle survivors as it is an educational and leadership forum: This small gathering—approximately 250 out of 2,000 members—represents a tight-knit group of administrators who, in many cases, have been involved in the association for many years and weathered the countless challenges that long-term care inherently presents.

Jaw-dropping war stories were shared in sessions ranging from media management in a crisis situation, the cost of staff turnover, the mind-numbing demands of the MDS, and the criminal landscape in long-term care. These seasoned administrators have seen it all and were here to gain strength and support from their peers, rack up those coveted CE credits, and blow off a little steam—that’s a given here in the Big Easy.

The association itself faces challenges—namely, an aging membership struggling to attract a younger generation of professionals who, as one administrator shared with me, "are not known as joiners.” This challenge was played out in a lively bylaws forum where a proposed amendment to allow for the creation of virtual chapters drew heated debate and a split vote. Still, the issue is unlikely to go away; to ensure its survival ACHCA will need to be flexible and open to change. I don’t doubt they’re up to the task. In fact, it seems like a cake walk compared to the challenges they face on a daily basis in their work back home.

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