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America Needs More Nurses in the Boardroom

Many hospital boardrooms across America still do not include nurses. It is unfortunate because nurses have a wealth of medical and professional knowledge. They can offer clinical expertise and insight into how to improve patient care. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Nursing Administration may help nurses in their pursuit of a spot on the hospital board.

What Is a Board in the Healthcare Industry?

A board of directors of a healthcare organization is made up of a group of people with specific roles and responsibilities who govern the operation of an organization.

What Is the Purpose of a Healthcare Governing Body?

The board works together to decide on how to keep a healthcare organization financially stable while upholding quality care for patients.

How Does a Board Work?

The leadership structure of a board in healthcare can vary depending on the size of the organization and the type — whether it is a private, for-profit or nonprofit hospital. In addition, a healthcare organization’s method of management may dictate the exact roles and titles for each member so there isn’t a set standard for boards.

The board has the ability to hire and fire a chief executive officer. The board members’ job is to oversee the performance of the chief executive officer (CEO), approve major policies, review the finances of the healthcare organization and set long-term goals to maintain steady growth. The board usually meets a few times a year.

The CEO sits on the board and is responsible for the daily function of the organization, which may include making operational decisions, creating policies and carrying out the board’s directives. Furthermore, the CEO updates the board about hospital activities and suggests recommendations for necessary changes and improvements.

Typically, a hospital board is made up of the following positions:

  • Board chair
  • Board of trustees or board of directors
  • Company secretary
  • General counsel
  • Board treasurer
  • CEO (or Dean of Medicine)
  • President

Why Are More Nurses Needed on Boards?

According to the National Health Care Governance Survey Report, the overall rate of nurses serving on boards is 5 percent, compared to 20 percent for physicians.

Nurses work in all types of healthcare settings in a multitude of specialties, which puts them in direct contact with patients and the complex situations that arise in healthcare. And, they are the largest segment of the healthcare workforce.

Thus, nurses can aid boards in policy development, regulatory compliance and risk management. Here are other reasons why nurses should be on healthcare boards.

  • Assist with developing and executing strategic plans
  • Boost patient satisfaction
  • Increase the number of positive patient outcomes
  • Promote efficiency
  • Suggest cost saving policies, procedures and practices

Is There Support for More Nurses Becoming Board Members?

Yes. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), renamed the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2015, recommended in its 2010 report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health that governing bodies in healthcare should include nurses on boards, committees and executive management teams. The IOM supports the inclusion of nurses in leadership positions so they can collaborate on making necessary changes and elevating healthcare.

Nurses who earn an MSN in Nursing Administration are good candidates to serve on a hospital board because they are prepared in healthcare policy, cultural awareness and ethical issues as well as cost management and transformational leadership. They understand that a balance has to exist between cost and safety. They can offer boards their expertise in the best practices for the delivery of patient care that minimizes waste and cuts expenses. Moreover, nurses can act as a representative for nurse managers, nursing staff and patients.

Learn more about Texas A&M International University’s online MSN – Nursing Administration program.


Becker’s Hospital Review: 5 Reasons Hospital Boards Need More Nurses

The National Academy of Medicine: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

American Nurses Association: IOM Future of Nursing Report

The American Hospital Association’s Center for Healthcare Governance: 2014 National Health Care Governance Survey Report

Board Effect: The Roles and Responsibilities of a Board of Directors for a Hospital

Chron: CEO Vs. Board of Directors

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