Small City, Big Champions

By John H. Goodnow

A health system works around the challenges of a rural community to build a strong board

Recruiting board members is a challenge for every hospital and health system, but the task is particularly difficult in small communities. At Benefits Health System, Great Falls, Mont., our pool of candidates is largely limited to the city’s 60,000 residents, despite the fact that we are the tertiary referral center for a population of 250,000 across nearly 40,000 square miles of rural Montana.

We keep the trustee recruitment process relatively simple, which has served us well. We consider certain skill sets — finance, business, health care delivery — to be core competencies for our board. When a board vacancy occurs, we identify the skill set that must be present in candidates for that position. For example, if an open position previously was filled by a financial professional, we likely would replace that trustee with another financial professional.

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