“Nurses represent the largest labor force in hospitals, are the largest human resource expense and, most importantly, are closest to the patients, their families, the physicians, and many other key stakeholders. Yet they have little to no input into the governance of healthcare organizations, regardless of their level in those organizations. Only a small fraction of healthcare board positions are held by nurses.”
Connie Curran, EdD, RN, FAAN, and author of “Nurse on Board: Planning Your Path to the Boardroom,” doesn’t sugarcoat the urgent need for nurses to serve in leadership roles on governance boards. If you think this book is for “other” nurses, you’re wrong. Connie Curran is talking directly to you. Curran passed away in 2014, but what she leaves behind is a fine example of someone who has walked the walk and wants others to follow. You might say “Nurse on Board” is her legacy.
Curran doesn’t just draw on her own experience, although hers alone reaches a wide breadth. She also incorporates knowledge and guidance from other leading nurse board members who are paving the way for the future. They are the pioneers and mentors and they want to show you exactly how they did it so that you can do it, too. The examples include Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Adviser for Nursing and Director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.
“She is one of the nurses driving up the number of nurses serving in governance roles … Most recently, Hassmiller stepped into a role as a trustee for a large integrated health system, a new experience as this health board comprises almost all males, and she represents not just one of only a few female perspectives but also the only nursing perspective. That scenario is not all that uncommon … All too often, notes Hassmiller, boards do not understand the “ins and outs of how things are going to be implemented at the unit level.” But nurses do. They can be the “reality check” she says boards need. It is a misconception, says Hassmiller, that “if you have a physician representative either on a board or providing testimony on Capitol Hill, or whatever, that he or she is a representative of the entire healthcare workforce.” This, she stresses, is not the case. And that is exactly the role that nurses are poised to fill.”
“Nurse on Board” starts at the very beginning, assuming the reader knows nothing about governing boards (and most of us don’t). Curran delves immediately into what boards do, the categories that boards fit into – hospital, professional organizations and corporate, to name a few. She also explores the difference between governance and management. And most importantly, she argues why nurses must secure their place in governance and what you need to know to make it happen.
“Nurse on Board” is inspiring and filled with Curran’s business acumen. The overall tone is encouraging, without overlooking the immense challenges of serving on a board, and it dispels the pervasive myth that people who serve on boards are something other than people like yourself. Nurses have the problem solving and decision-making capabilities, coupled with an intimate knowledge of the implications those decisions have on patient care and the nurse’s job. “Nurse on Board” is the foundation for learning what it takes to step up to the plate (hint: It’s everything you already have, plus a few things you simply need to learn).
“Too many nurses, says Linda Procci, retired COO and VP, hold themselves back from board service because they say things like, “I can’t be on a board because I’ve never been a leader — I’ve never done major budget planning.” When she hears this, I say ‘Really? How much money do you make? Do you manage your bills? Do you invest in your 401k plan? Okay, then you’ve had experience. It’s just that the numbers are significantly bigger!’”
Get ready, because “Nurse on Board” will likely light a fire within you. Read it, apply its message and you will change the healthcare world. You can purchase “Nurse on Board” here.
Thank you, Connie Curran.