Bridging the Gap: Interim Nurse Leadership

What are the Benefits of Interim Leadership in Healthcare?

Imagine being able to experience variety in geography, living arrangements, work settings and colleagues several times a year – welcoming a new set of challenges in each assignment. Often, nursing leaders share that the most energizing and fulfilling experiences they have had during their careers involved situations when they have truly transformed practice environments. Interim leaders typically seek out and welcome challenges and thrive in new opportunities to foster change. As William Cowper famously commented in 1785, “Variety is the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.”

What is Interim Leadership?

By definition, interim positions serve for a temporary duration through times of leadership transition within organizations. Far from serving as a placeholder, an interim leader thrives in fast paced environments and excels at completing even the most complex agenda. Interim leaders analyze, plan and execute very quickly to support the organization’s strategic objectives. Often times, an interim leader enters challenging situations, keeps the organizational agenda seamlessly on track, and sets the stage for success for the next permanent leader. 

It is no surprise that interim leaders have highly specialized education and experienced, proven talent. Based on a recent survey conducted by Kirby Bates Associates (KBA), 42% of interim health care leaders have 20 years or greater experience in permanent leadership roles before serving as an interim. The survey also reports an impressive 86% of interim health care leaders hold a master’s degree or higher. 

The main goal of an interim leader is to achieve the agreed upon deliverables that support the overall organizational agenda. Interim leaders assist with a myriad of organizational aspects within the hospital including succession planning, resolution of fiscal challenges, operational effectiveness, staff restructuring, patient satisfaction and case management. By utilizing an interim leader, hospitals can prepare for the best permanent hire who will provide strong leadership and direction for years to come.

Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach. - Earl Nightingale
Bridging the Gap, Earl Nightingale

Benefits of Becoming an Interim Leader

  • More control. Interims can select the contracts they want to pursue and choose only what interests them most. They can accept or defer on engagements without compromising future opportunities.
  • Flexibility. An interim leader’s lifestyle is more flexible than permanent employment. An interim has the option of taking time off while between interim opportunities.
  • Provide added value. As a seasoned and content expert professional, an interim leader brings significant value and proven solutions to a client. An interim leader serves uniquely in roles that are a combination of administrator and consultant.
  • Highly competitive compensation. Interim leaders are highly specialized and are compensated accordingly because of their experience and ability to deliver results. Total compensation packages may include salary, benefits, housing and local transportation along with airfare or other transportation for regular trips home.
  • Travel opportunities. Interims are never locked into one location. They can apply for positions in a variety of regions across the country, live in places they have always dreamed of visiting, and get to know the people, the food and the culture.
  • Rewarding career. Many interims enjoy the challenges associated with the job and are energized by the ability to be drivers of change. Interim leaders set the tone for the permanent leader and have the opportunity to make positive differences in organizational directions and outcomes.

What Qualities Make an Interim Leader Successful?

  • Ability to think critically and strategically
  • High adaptability
  • Ability to empower others
  • Eagerness to implement change
  • Self-driven and proactive disposition
  • Ability to engage and develop others
  • Possession of strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Motivation to achieve deliverables within a designated time frame

What Can a Candidate Expect While Working as an Interim?

Generally, an interim leader should expect to be accountable for achieving deliverables set by the hospital in an agreed-upon time frame. There is opportunity to experience a broad range of organizations and challenges on his/her terms and schedule. Interim leaders also have the ability to make a real difference in an organization in a designated period of time without the need for a long-term commitment. In addition, an interim has the added bonus of living in other locations for the duration of the assignment. 

When Should a Hospital Hire an Interim Leader?

A hospital should consider hiring an interim leader when they wish to avoid a negative impact caused by departures, planned or unplanned, of key leaders, or if the hospital needs a seasoned expert to take on complex goals and rapidly implement improvement initiatives. Return on investment for an interim leader can be quite significant and can also facilitate a seamless transition to a permanent leader.

Interim leaders are adept at performing efficient organizational assessments and are ready to implement what often can be a challenging and much needed change. They assist in onboarding the permanent placement or can play a vital role in developing and coaching internal candidates moving into needed management roles. Whether on the administrative or patient care side of the organization, interim leaders bring excellent experience, mentoring skills, thoughtful leadership and critical thinking to the table. It is evident that interim leaders bring significant experience and talent to organizations.

Find Out More

Interim leaders from KBA include interim nurse executives, directors, and managers that provide the talent that hospitals need to assure smooth transitions and optimize effectiveness. Kirby Bates Associates’ Executive Vice President, Interim Services, Doris Sinkevich, MS, RN, CENP, is a former hospital COO and CNO and interim leader. She knows firsthand the challenges that hospitals are facing. She is uniquely qualified to facilitate efficient and seamless transitions with interim leaders who are prepared to hit the ground running and provide expert service from the first day. 

Want to learn even more about interim leadership? Download the Executive Summary of “Interim Leadership 2018” for deeper insights into the education, qualifications and motivations of interim nursing leaders. For more information or additional questions, contact the Kirby Bates Associates team of experts today!