Nurses, with their proximity to patients and understanding of the continuum of care, are well poised to help lead improvements in the health care system. Yet, despite their qualifications, few nurses are tapped to join health care organization boards. The Institute of Medicine’s 2011 landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, called for nurses to fill leadership positions—on boards, on executive management teams and in other key positions.
The American Hospital Association’s Center for Healthcare Governance has identified the skills and competencies required for individuals to successfully serve on a health care board:
- Knowledge and skills—in the areas of health care delivery and performance, business and finance, and human resources.
- Personal capabilities—in the areas of achievement orientation, collaboration, community orientation, innovative thinking, organizational awareness, strategic orientation and team leadership.
Nurse leaders naturally possess many of these capabilities, and others may need to be developed through continuing education, according to author Sue Hassmiller, PhD, RN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing. “But nurses should challenge themselves to consider board leadership as a new avenue of service that can have a significant, lasting impact on the transformation of the nation’s health and health care.”