More Board Positions for Nurse Leaders Would Improve the Country’s Healthcare Systems

Even today, the pivotal 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” continues to influence public health policy in this country.

One of its recommendations is to develop the leadership skills of nurses, so they will be better prepared to take on high-level roles and effect change in the country’s healthcare policies.

Nurses can apply their expertise in patient care and their knowledge of healthcare systems by serving on boards. However, a report by the AHA (American Hospital Association) indicates that nurses hold only 5% of the positions on hospital boards, while physicians hold 20%.

The Nurses on Boards Coalition is attempting to change these numbers with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This group of 21 organizations related to healthcare has the ambitious goal of having 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020.

The Coalition states on its website that with 3.5 million nurses in the US, it makes “good business sense” to have the perspective of nurses represented where decisions affecting health are made. Boards that would benefit from the expertise of nurses include:

  • Governmental
  • Corporate
  • Governance
  • Advisory
  • Non-profit

Laurie Benson, the Executive Director of the Nurses on Boards Coalition, urges nurse leaders to report if they are currently serving on a board or would like to do so. The Coalitions keeps a database of such nurse leaders. She also urges nurses to ask their employers about inviting a nurse to serve on the organization’s board.

As of October 23, 2016, there were 2,356 nurses on boards in the US with thousands more having registered that they would be interested in these kinds of positions. The Coalition is optimistic that its efforts will lead to a significant increase in the number of nurse leaders contributing their expertise to improving healthcare in the US by serving on boards.


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