This qualitative case study utilized interviews and evaluation of publicallyavailable documents to investigate the process of succession planning in a moderately-sized public health office located in a metropolitan community in a frontier-rural state. Following analysis of the data, the results were compared to literature findings. Four public health directors, the County Health Officer and the Board of Health chairperson participated in the private, face-to-face interviews. These individuals were asked to participate because they have the ability to direct staff leadership development activities. A formal succession planning program did not exist at this agency; however, on an informal basis, leadership development was evident. Successes in promotion of leadership development included establishment of a cooperative and collegial work atmosphere. Barriers to the process of succession planning included a lack of stable funding, lack of understanding about the role of public health by the public, erosion of public health authority, inability to recruit trained personnel, low pay scales, and aging of the current workforce. The results of this study indicate that although formal succession planning programs may not exist within an agency, leadership development is still possible through proven adult education methods.


Succession Planning, Rural Public Health, Leadership Development, Case Study, Qualitative Research

Author Bio(s)

Sandra L. Cole, R.N., Ed.D., is a graduate of the University of Wyoming School of Education specializing in Adult and Postsecondary Education. She teaches Family, Community, and Population-Based Care in the RN-BSN program in the online classroom at Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works for Wyoming Medical Center, Casper, Wyoming. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Sandra L. Cole, at the following: Address: 2445 East 8th Street, Casper, Wyoming 82609; Phone: 307-235- 6964; E-mail: scole82609@msn.com

Clifford P. Harbour, J.D., Ed.D., is an Associate Professor in the Professional Studies Department in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming. He teaches graduate courses in the Adult and Postsecondary Education Program and advises doctoral students pursuing leadership careers in higher education, nonprofit organizations, and public health care. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Clifford P. Harbour at the following: Address: College of Education, Dept. #3374, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071; Phone: 307-766-3060

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