Considering the Value of Experienced Healthcare Executives Regardless of Age


Approved by the Board of Governors November 2020.

Statement of the Issue

The current healthcare workforce spans five generations. In 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 85% of those working in hospitals and health services were 25 to 64 years of age, while about 6% were 65 years old or older, and 9% were 24 years old or younger.[1]

Healthcare employers and employees must acknowledge the employment challenges these demographics represent. One of those challenges is overcoming unsubstantiated negative stereotypes based on age concerning attitudes, performance, knowledge, physiological capacity, and ability to learn new techniques and skills. With the increasing demand for qualified clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals, an opportunity for employers is to tap the extensive skills, perspectives and experiences of workers of all ages.  

In 1967, the federal government enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Its purpose is protecting and promoting the employment opportunities of older workers and helping to find solutions to age-related employment problems. Healthcare organizations will engender more positive regard and support from their key stakeholders by striving to embrace the spirit and the letter of the law. In addition, for healthcare organizations to be well-positioned to respond to the needs of age-diverse patients and other stakeholders, they are best served by the individual and collective skills of an age-diverse workforce.


Policy Position

The American College of Healthcare Executives encourages healthcare executives and their organizations to employ individuals without regard to their age. While overt discrimination against employment of older, experienced healthcare executives is illegal and subject to sanction under federal law, even covert discrimination against the employment of healthcare executives on the basis of age is incompatible with ACHE's Code of Ethics.

Executive employment decisions are becoming increasingly complex as organizations respond to demands for changing leadership and management skills, for healthcare leadership to reflect the population served, and ensuring workforce diversity and a culture that supports inclusion and equity. To avoid actual and perceived discrimination, ACHE advocates the following to help create equitable employment opportunities.

ACHE encourages all healthcare executives and the organizations they represent to play a significant role in addressing this issue by actively pursuing the following:

  • Employers should direct executive recruiters to identify and present candidates for senior-level positions irrespective of their age, and executive recruiters should suggest their clients consider candidates for positions irrespective of their age.
  • CEOs, trustees and recruitment and retention decision makers should avoid negative stereotypes based on age and actively recruit qualified executives for consideration, including those who are between positions.
  • CEOs and trustees of healthcare organizations should establish human resources plans that provide for leadership succession and effective continuing education for executives of all ages.

ACHE encourages such executives to actively pursue the following:

  • Be flexible with respect to organizational settings, geographic areas, levels of responsibility and compensation structures when seeking new positions.
  • Be a role model, sponsor and mentor as appropriate to other executives. At the same time, accept mentoring from other executives to foster cross-generational collaboration, learning and understanding of the mutual benefits of teamwork. 
  • Assume responsibility for continuously developing and maintaining relevant leadership, management and technology skills so they can contribute value to employing organizations in environments that continually change, e.g., coaching provided virtually for organizations needing specific skillsets during times of turnover and staffing shortages.
  • Counter potential age bias by highlighting achievements, skills, breadth of knowledge, lessons learned from experiencing both successes and failures, and understanding of the perspectives of diverse stakeholders.
  • Interact with colleagues of all generations and remain actively involved in professional associations at both the national and local (chapter) level; sharing knowledge and supporting the communities served.

Healthcare will continue to be regarded as a dynamic sector of the economy—one that not only offers the prospect of employment, but also the opportunity to make important social contributions. Leaders in this field have an ethical responsibility to select and retain executives without regard to their age.



  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019). 11b. Employed persons by detailed occupation and age.  

Policy created: May 1992
Last revised: November 2015