In the Media: Nurses, Nursing Champions Well Represented Among Most Powerful Women in Health Care

May 3, 2013, 9:00 AM

This is part of the May 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has called on nurses to take on more leadership positions so they can use their unique insights to help redesign the nation’s ailing health care system.

But some nurses are already there.

In its biennial list of the 25 most powerful women in the health care industry, Modern Healthcare, a leading health policy journal, included nine women with nursing backgrounds and two others who are vocal champions of nurses and nursing.

Nurses and nursing champions, in other words, comprised nearly half the list, which was released in April.

“I was surprised and honored,” Maureen Bisognano, BSN, MSN, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and one of the honorees, said in a video statement.

The eight other honorees with nursing backgrounds are:

  • Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, president of the American Nurses Association;
  • Patricia Hemingway Hall, BSN, MPH, president and CEO of Health Care Service Corp.;
  • Sister Carol Keehan, DC, RN, MS, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association;
  • Sharon O’Keefe, RN, MSN, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center;
  • Judith Persichilli, RN, BSN, MA, president and CEO of Catholic Health East;
  • Marilyn Tavenner, MHA, BSN, RN, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services;
  • Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration; and
  • Shirley Weis, BSN, MM, chief administrative officer and vice president of the Mayo Clinic.

Two women on the list have backgrounds in other fields but are vocal advocates of nurses and nursing.

As president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, has used her considerable influence to support nurses and nursing. Along with AARP, RWJF leads the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which is working to improve health and health care by transforming the nursing profession. The Campaign is rooted in the IOM report on the future of nursing, which included a call for more nurse leaders among its recommendations.

Leah Binder, MA, MGA, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, is working to encourage hospitals to hire more highly educated nurses—a key goal of the Campaign for Action. The Leapfrog Group is a member of the Campaign’s Champion Nursing Coalition, and supports the development of nurse leaders to achieve and maintain hospital safety standards.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.