The Center for Rural Health recently completed the strategic planning process and we are pleased to announce a new strategic plan to guide our organization over the next 3-5 years. Before I get to specifics of our new plan, I’d like to share how we got to this point.
In 2011, the long-standing Rural Health Office transitioned to the Center for Rural Health. While it may appear at first glance to be a simple name change, in the world of academia a “Center” has more privileges and responsibilities, so it was definitely a step forward for our organization. About that time, I arrived as the first Director of the Center. While the Rural Health Office did have a strategic plan, it was not being used by the organization and given the transition to the Center for Rural Health there was clearly a need for a new plan.
In 2012, we began the process of putting together a new strategic plan. Our Center hired Jonathan Sprague, MPH, a noted rural health leader and consultant, to help guide our Center and to provide an unbiased, external perspective. He would be in a position not to sugarcoat anything! Jonathan has previously worked with other State Offices of Rural Health, rural health hospitals and national rural health organizations in a similar capacity.
An environmental scan was completed, which focused on our internal strengths and weaknesses (yes, we do have some), as well as external threats and opportunities. As part of this practice, Jonathan reviewed the best practices for organizations similar to ours, the current healthcare environment, and he did in-person and telephone interviews with approximately 50 individuals. These individuals included the Center’s faculty, staff and students, individuals in leadership positions in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the University of Arizona, rural health leaders and stakeholders across Arizona and some of our national partners.
In March, Jonathan led a day-long staff retreat as we brainstormed about our mission, vision, values and potential future directions. A draft report was prepared and was reviewed in depth by the Center personnel. A final version of the strategic plan was approved by the Center personnel and we are now in the process of implementing it.
As a result of this process, the CRH has a new mission statement —“To improve the health and wellness of Arizona’s rural populations” – and a new vision: “To be the leading voice for the Health and Wellness of Arizona’s Rural Populations through research, education and service.” The guiding principles of our Center can be found here, while our core strategies moving forward can be found here.
It is our hope that this new plan will enhance our effectiveness and will allow us to have a greater impact on rural health in Arizona and beyond. John Maxwell, a noted leadership expert, has summarized leadership in one word: influence. At the end of the day, it is our desire that the Center for Rural Health has a positive influence on healthcare for the residents of rural Arizona.