Rural Access to Leadership Development in California: Needs and Opportunities


Emily Shen, Renae Waneka, Gina Lima, and Sunita Mutha

November 18, 2022

Nationwide experts on rural health assert that leadership training would benefit health and health care in rural communities. Most available leadership development programs for health care leaders in rural and border regions of California are year-long hybrid or virtual only. Existing programs have defined curricula with a focus on communication and operational skills and include professional networking. Some programs are for employees of specific organizations or associations, while others include employees in specific roles from different organizations. Program costs vary and are often subsidized by grants or sponsorships so that participants’ organizations do not pay for staff to attend.

Based on an environmental scan and key informant interviews, leaders in these regions desire access to affordable leadership development opportunities that build skills and connections among peers across organizations. Programs with the following features may help address some of the identified needs and challenges: (1) Three to six-month hybrid program (a combination of virtual and in-person sessions) with a defined curriculum, peer networking, executive coaching, and a 360-feedback assessment and (2) Curriculum content including: navigating conflict, persuading and influencing others, increasing resilience, and leading others through organizational change.