No Nurses on Your Hospital Board? Why Not?

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , August 12, 2014

Nurses can help drive strategies that affect cost and quality "because they deal with it every day," says an RN and veteran member of multiple boards. Yet nurses—especially women—are grossly underrepresented on hospital boards.

Here's a question for you, hospital executives: Why don't you have a nurse on your board?

To the handful of you who actually do have a nurse on the board of directors, kudos. But the chances are good that you don't have one: data from 2011 shows that only 6% of board members are nurses.

Gender is certainly a contributing factor here. Most nurses are women, and in general, women are grossly underrepresented on corporate boards across industries. According to data from Catalyst, women hold just 16.9% of board positions in the United States.

"If it were proportional, it would be 52%," says Connie R. Curran, RN, EdD, FAAN, CEO of Best on Board. She serves on boards of directors for Hospira, Inc., DePaul University, and the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Curran was also the former chairperson of the board of Silver Cross Hospital in Lenox IL, and has served on many others.

She has lots of experience, not only with being the only nurse and the only woman on a board, but also with encountering blatant sexism along the way.

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3 comments on "No Nurses on Your Hospital Board? Why Not?"

Connie Cole-Ingber RN (8/21/2014 at 12:07 AM)
How about a more basic question of how to find out who is on your hospital board? Where do you start if you have never wondered about these things before? C. Cole Ingber.

Adelina N Healy (8/19/2014 at 1:26 PM)
I have just inquired about sitting on the board of our local hospital.

Julia Weinberg RN (8/12/2014 at 7:18 PM)
There has been a movement to try and get a nurse elected to a Public Hospital Board in one of the near by communites where I live and work. The hospital attorney on behalf of the board of directors tells them that a nurse who runs for the public board seat and is an employee of the hospital must give up their working position in order to serve their elected term due to conflict of interest. After reading this article and the writer telling us that a Board of Directors should be sratigic and visionary as well fuduciary responsible to the organization they serve. If Physician are allowed to serve and recuse themselves at times if they perceive anything to be discussed and voted on as a conflict of interest and still serve as a board member, than why not nurses who know the work of why people come to a hospital and health sytem best have to vacate their working position to fufill an elected position on the hospital board of directors? It seems almost a double standard here and nurses most of us are women and Physicians bing in the revenue because they admit patients to the hospital. How less of a conflict is this-I have to ask.




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