The intangibles of professional association membership for new long-term care leaders

By: Christin Delahay, CDP, LNHA

As a blossoming leader in long-term care with a specific mission, vision and value for what I want to create for the consumers I serve, my support system is an integral part of developing and enhancing those values and that vision.

The American College of Healthcare Administrators (ACHCA) has been instrumental in the development of my mission and vision for long term care. As a student of St. Joseph’s College of Maine’s Long Term Care Administration program, I was introduced to ACHCA at the beginning of my capstone project. One of my professors had strongly encouraged my membership as a not merely important part of my education, but a mission critical step in developing myself as a leader within a network of other administrators that share my values and pursuit of excellence in this particular field.  

My investment in ACHCA goes deeper than the superficial and tangible benefits of membership, the CE opportunities I draw education from, and the miscellany of discounts I happily take advantage of. The real benefits of College membership begin for me in the immersion of the culture of the College and its constituency. It is here where I find the realization of my dreams for long term care, and the hope that I need to withstand a challenging and oft assaulted healthcare environment, known for its ability to chew up and spit out even the most well-intentioned leaders. I believe that most of us share this sentiment and take a great deal of inspiration from surrounding ourselves with the other excellence-motivated and compassionate leaders that make up the large population of College members.

I am a “millennial”. That’s right, I’m a member of that often-maligned group of incoming workforce leaders that we spend so much time analyzing how to engage. While I do not identify with many of the stereotypes that accompany the group of individuals born in this particular generational group, I just happen to fall right in there, and so it is. I am a “second life” administrator. This means I bring with me nearly 15 years of existing workforce experience in labor, human resource management, sales and marketing, business management and ownership. I came to long term care because I experienced the shortcomings of the industry in my own family with my own loved ones. I came to long term care because I truly felt I could help improve it. I chose long term care as the place where I would bring my unique skills, my experience, and my dedication, to help make the world a better place for the people I serve.

Through the College, I have found and thrived in a network of like-minded individuals who truly care about the future of long term care and evolving and enhancing the culture of person-centered wellness for consumers. I benefit from mentorship formally and informally, and I never feel that I have a shortage of experts I can call on to receive experiential advice in most any situation. I have developed meaningful relationships with people like me, who can share with me the joys and the challenges of caring for our chosen population. Through the College, I have received the recognition of my value and the affirmation that my work will make a difference. Through the College, I have found the strength and support I need to focus, create, innovate and continuously improve. I have said before that AHCA recognizes the excellence I learn from ACHCA.

The exceptional leaders existing and active within our great organization are our foundation, and on that foundation, we must cement the stones of the next generation to ensure the continuation of this legacy. We must draw new leaders to us and give them the support that they need to succeed and rise. When we take part in active membership of a professional association, we surround ourselves with our own. We fortify our numbers with more exceptional individuals whom we can teach, and from whom we receive the gifts of leadership.

I invite and encourage other leaders in my beloved field of post-acute and long-term care to consider the fellowship and support, the passion and the purpose, the intangibles of professional association membership.  

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