Interview with Bill Auxier, founder of Rural Health Leadership Radio, Inc

Bill Auxier

Bill Auxier, Ph.D. is the founder of Rural Health Leadership, Inc., a non-profit organization impacting rural healthcare at a fundamental level. Bill is a talented speaker with many feathers in his cap. He has been a presenter and keynote speaker at many conferences and meetings, including National Rural Health Association (NRHA), American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), Illinois Rural Health Association, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN), Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH), WONCA (World Organization of Family Doctors) World Rural Health Conference, and many more.

Bill has released over 250 episodes to his podcast “Rural Health Leadership Radio”, which is available on leading streaming platforms. Listeners from across the globe love listening to their favorite speaker Bill Auxier talk on important topics on the podcast “Rural Health Leadership Radio”.


Interviewer: Tell our readers more about yourself.

Bill Auxier: I grew up in a rural community in Southern Illinois.  Most people do not realize how far south the State of Illinois goes, but where I grew up is further south than Louisville, KY.  My family relied on the small hospital in our rural community, and it truly made a difference in our lives.  When I was a senior in high school, I landed my first job in healthcare when that same rural hospital hired me as a nurse’s aide.  That was the beginning of a career in healthcare, starting as a nurse’s aide and working my way up to become a CEO.  That rural hospital made a tremendous difference for me and my family.  With many rural hospitals facing closure, it is my mission in life to do everything I can to prevent rural hospital closures.


Interviewer: What inspired you to start your own podcast?

Bill Auxier:  During a conversation with a rural hospital CEO in South Florida near Lake Okeechobee, where there is mostly everglades, alligators and sugar cane fields. I asked him what one of his biggest challenges was, running a hospital in such a remote area.  His answer surprised me.  He said he didn’t know what other rural hospital leaders are doing.  What they have tried that worked, what they have tried that didn’t work.  He said it was almost like they keep it a secret from each other.  The only way he could find out this information was by attending conferences, and that took time and money, two things he had little of.  If that kind of information could be shared and it didn’t cost anything, that would provide great value.  In my mind I was thinking, sure, we all want great value without having to pay for it, but how are you going to do that?

The very next day I was out for a morning run listening to one of my favorite podcasts when all of a sudden a light bulb went off.  I made one my quickest runs home ever, jumped on my computer and initiated a search to see if there were any podcasts on rural health leadership.  I found nothing.  The next day the Rural Health Leadership Radio podcast was created.

The first episode of RHLR had a total of 24 downloads, not very many.  But I was ecstatic!  I did not have 24 people in my family, so I knew someone other than a family member had listened!  Today we have listeners from around the world, mostly the United States, and downloads have exceeded 3,000 per month.


Interviewer: Which is your most favorite among the over 250 episodes of your podcast?

Bill Auxier:  Every episode is special so it is difficult to select a favorite.  The interview with R.D. Williams is special because he was the CEO who gave me the idea with his response to my question about the “biggest challenge.”  I appreciate the Honorable Adam O’Neal, Mayor of Belhaven, NC, sharing the story of the rural hospital closure in his town.  I appreciate Alan Morgan, CEO Brock Slabach, Sr. VP Membership Services, both with NRHA, making time to be a guest when no one had heard of RHLR.  Some of my favorite stories are from Christian Curtis and the work she is doing at the Fort Peck Reservation where she grew up.  And Mary Beth Pena, sharing the work she has done in a rural community in Florida, helping residents learn how to cook traditional recipes in a healthier way.  Every story is unique and I appreciate all the guests for making the time to share their respective story.


Interviewer: Tell us about your journey as a speaker.

Bill Auxier:  I love public speaking and I love sharing my passion around rural health leadership and how leadership makes a difference.  It may be in my DNA as my father was a minister as is my brother and other members of the family.  I appreciate listening to a good speaker so I work hard to deliver my message in an enjoyable way.


Interviewer: What message would you like to give to our readers out there?

Bill Auxier:  Leadership makes the difference.  When rural hospitals close, it has a negative impact on the well being of members of the community.  What many people do not realize is that usually, a rural hospital is the biggest or one of the biggest employers in that rural community.  If that hospital closes, it is devastating to that community from both a healthcare concern and economic concern.  But it’s not just the members of that community. Many people from urban areas visit rural areas all the time, for vacation or traveling.  When an emergency happens, you want quality healthcare as quickly as possible, so it impacts us all.  Policy decisions made in our nation’s capital are often influenced by the leaders from urban settings.  Rural hospitals are not smaller versions of large urban health centers.  Rural hospitals are compensated differently and face unique challenges.  There is no such thing as a one size fits all healthcare policy.  Rural health leaders work hard to be heard in our nation’s capital to make sure the rural perspective is considered when creating healthcare policy.  Leadership makes the difference.