Author Archives: Fran Roberts

Proud to be ‘The Nurse on the Board’!

Oct 8, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Fran Roberts

This week marks the 4th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s future of nursing report. Fran Roberts, PhD, RN, FAAN, is owner and executive leader of the Fran Roberts Group, a consulting and contracting practice providing expertise on health care leadership, higher education, governance, regulation and patient safety. The Kate Aurelius Visiting Professor for the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix, Roberts serves on the boards of directors of several health care organizations, including the Presbyterian Central New Mexico Health System. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive News Fellows program.

“Leadership from nurses is needed at every level and across all settings.” That’s what the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Future of Nursing panel wrote in its 2011 report—a message I’ve taken to heart. Here’s why the IOM was exactly right.

I’ve served (and still serve) on several health-related boards, in most cases as the only nurse in a group dominated by physicians, local business leaders, and administrators. My experience on the Presbyterian Central New Mexico Healthcare Services board, which I now chair, is both representative and instructive. I joined the board about eight years ago, recruited by one of my colleagues in the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program, Kathy Davis, RN, the senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Presbyterian.

It was an honor to be asked, doubly so because I live and work out of state. But Presbyterian had concluded that it needed a nurse with executive experience on its board, so I got the call.

I started my first term on the board determined not to pigeon-hole myself as “the nurse on the board.” I didn’t want my fellow board members to think I had tunnel vision, unable to see beyond the need to advocate for nurses. That’s not to say I didn’t intend to advocate for nurses when that was called for, but I didn’t want to be limited to that, either in my colleagues’ estimation or in reality.

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