HR 'bears a real responsibility'
Human resources professionals could be the driving force that eventually upends the hierarchal mentality between physicians and nurses. But they need to step up, says Curran.
"HR people who should have the skillsets and the influence, I don't think really understand what nurses do, frankly. In terms of the kind of leadership they could bring to the table, in terms of the difficult personalities nurses deal with on a daily basis, the development of their own staff," says Fitzpatrick.
"Come up to a unit, come into a hospital on a weekend, and see who is holding the place together," says Curran. "I think HR bears a real responsibility here. HR in hospitals should be providing leadership on this issue, and they should be identifying nursing talent early and emphasizing the role of the manager in developing his or her people."
The focus of a nurse's daily existence is to provide the highest quality of patient care. With such a financial emphasis around patient satisfaction and quality healthcare, a hospital CEO that prioritizes quality patient care, and understands it at its most acute level, will serve its patients well by aligning a team toward that same mission.
It was big news last August when, after 80 years, the Augusta National Golf Club changed course and invited two women to become members. Change came slowly, and only after prolonged pressure from women's groups and corporate interests.
If a similar change is to come to healthcare's C-suite, nurses need to apply more upward pressure. And HR must exert some force and be a change agent.