At some point, the intense search for warm bodies to fill the thousands of vacant positions in US nursing homes is going to ease. Either more workers will be found or positions requiring them will be redistributed or deleted.

Most likely, a bit of both will happen. But that crisis will ease. 

And then it will become obvious there is another one: Who is going to lead the sector’s workers so it doesn’t continually suffer the leaky bucket syndrome? Many employees in the near future will be new or inexperienced. It is already abundantly clear that good leadership will be imperative. Motivated, satisfied, well-trained staff are vital but don’t happen by themselves.

It won’t be easy. But at least eager long-term care operators have some positive opportunities working in their favor.

You only have to consider one of the most surprisingly popular articles in the McKnight’s Daily Update newsletter this week. Thousands of readers have clicked into this story to learn about the return of a vital credentialing program for skilled nursing and assisted living leaders. And there’s no sign of a slowdown going into its third day. Good on ya, American College of Health Care Administrators!

Then, there are the long-running efforts of the Vision Centre, which is creating a nationwide network of college and  advanced education openings to develop trained LTC leaders. The center’s recently announced advisory council is a star-studded roster of those who know how to run a successful shop in this business.

Which brings us to another prime focal point — and opportunity — for those who want to learn from the best. The McKnight’s Pinnacle Awards program is honoring an elite tier of the “best of the best” at a gala dinner and awards ceremony March 7 in Chicago.

You want to see an impressive gallery of veteran leaders and people who know how to get things done? How about Career Achievement Award winner Robert G. Kramer? Or the likes of Daniel Reingold, Jack Dwyer, Lynne Katzmann, Robyn Stone, Ben Unkle, Betsy Mullen and a couple of dozen others? Check out all of them at the event’s website. No doubt you’ll be able to find someone representing or overseeing your slice of long-term care.

The best thing is, you are invited to meet and greet them in person — before, during and after they accept their handsome awards. The evening will include plenty of casual time for drinks, dining and plenty of opportunities to let you personally find out what makes these successful veterans tick.

Great leaders aren’t born. They’re made — of people who intentionally seek out ways to become one.

Be there March 7 and show us how it’s done.

More information about the Pinnacle Awards, including how to reserve seats at the inaugural awards banquet, is available here.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Executive Editor.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.