Larry Sanders, recipient of the American College of Healthcare Executives' 2006 Gold Medal Award, got an early start in healthcare by working in a hospital 40 hours a week as a high school student. The field wasn't his first career choice, however.
While obtaining his business degree from the University of Tennessee, Sanders, 55, says a mentor gave him "pretty good insight" that he "wasn't a good accountant."
Sanders credits a "wise professor" for directing him to hospital administration; he later received his master's degree in healthcare administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Chairman and chief executive officer of 537-bed Columbus (Ga.) Regional Healthcare System for the past 25 years, Sanders values the leadership opportunities he's had while serving the ACHE. After joining an ACHE affiliate in 1976, he has since served as regent for the Georgia branch of the ACHE and as its governor and chairman.
"ACHE has given me the opportunity to meet a tremendous number of people, and I have made many relationships with colleagues and other leaders in my field," Sanders says.
In addition to his roles at the ACHE, Sanders is also chairman of the board of directors and a member of the executive committee of the Greater Columbus, Ga., Chamber of Commerce, and is a former chairman of the Georgia Hospital Association and former section delegate for the American Hospital Association's Section for Metropolitan Hospitals.
Sanders shows his appreciation by giving back to the healthcare community as an adjunct faculty member of the School of Health Related Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and affiliate professor for the health administration department at Virginia Commonwealth University.
"People can make a huge difference in hospitals and in community," Sanders says.
He formerly held positions at the hospital of which the Columbus system is the parent. As former president and CEO of the Medical Center in Columbus, where he also once served as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Sanders mentors future healthcare executives about what he describes as an extraordinarily complex career.
Healthcare executives "need to understand where their personal satisfaction comes from," Sanders says. "For them not to be in it for money, not for recognition, but because they enjoy what they do. It's all about helping people."
Sanders has also received the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals' CEO of the Year Award, Gold Honor Award of Excellence, Health Care Workforce Leadership Award and the Community Leadership Award; the Chairman's Award for Innovative Contributions and Meritorious Service from the GHA; the NOVA award in 2000 and Special Recognition and Award as Most Valuable PAC Player for the State of Georgia in 1998, both from the American Hospital Association; and Healthcare Forum's Emerging Leaders in Health Care Award in 1991.