Bringing Nursing's Perspective to the Boardroom

For years, nurses have been almost invisible on the boards of hospitals and medical journals, but according to an article in the most recent issue of Modern Healthcare, that's beginning to change. In two surveys conducted in 2005 and 2007 by the Governance Institute, the magazine reports, researchers found that less than 1 percent of hospitals and health systems reported that chief nursing officers voted on their governing boards.

In 2007, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched the Nurse Leaders in the Boardroom campaign to increase nursing's influence on health policy and quality improvement by adding at least a dozen nurses to influential health care quality or journal boards by 2009. To date, the program has placed at least seven nurses on boards. "[I]t takes a multi-prong strategy," the article quotes RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., saying. "I hope that at the very least our program is heightening the awareness of the unique characteristics and value that nurses bring."

Last September, Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care added a University of Minnesota nursing professor to its board, with an eye toward bringing nursing's perspective on health care quality and safety to board discussions. "Why would any board not have a nurse on the board?" says Nick Turkal, Aurora's president and CEO. "I think it's common sense, when you look at where health care is delivered."

This article was published with permission of Modern Healthcare.