Feb 15, 2017

Nurses Improve Boards. BoardRoom Press Highlights Why

Nurses Improve Boards. BoardRoom Press Highlights Why - Photo of Boardroom

The Governance Institute, dedicated for decades to the oversight of health care organizations, has over three months offered three separate takes on the value of nurses serving as board members. The author sharing a byline on all three knows the subject well: Laurie Benson, BSN, is executive director of the Nurses on Boards Coalition.

Where can a nurse help most as a director? Everywhere, and for multiple reasons, as the three articles on the Governance Institute’s BoardRoom Press detail.

Throughout the Community

“Through their volunteer appointments on community boards, philan­thropic organizations, governmental task forces, and commissions, nurse leaders carry their substantial expertise into the boardrooms of community organi­zations across the nation,” write Benson and  Kimberly Harper, MS, RN, in a piece that includes interviews with leaders from various industries saying how a nurse’s board service builds healthier communities.

Harper is the chief executive officer of the Indiana Center for Nursing and nursing lead of the Campaign for Action’s Indiana Action Coalition. She is also national co-chair of the Nurses on Boards Coalition.

As a director, a nurse can help the board steer a wise course. Equally important: The collaboration with neighborhood agencies inevitably gives the nurse additional experience and partnerships that benefit the organization he or she works for.

To Help the Patient Experience

Benson also co-authored an October piece, “Improve the Patient Experience—Ask a Nurse to Join the Board.” Sharing the byline was Sue Hassmiller, RN, PhD, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Hassmiller and Benson address hospitals and health care systems, writing, “Inviting more nurse leaders to the boardroom will improve the board’s effectiveness and efficiency in addressing the compelling business case to improve the patient experience.” 

To Advise on Care Coordination

Complementing those two pieces is an article in December that assesses the need for oversight and coordination for those undergoing transitions in care—the post-discharge period of time when someone might need assistance among rehabilitation, long-term care, or skilled nursing facilities, as well as home health care. Nurses should have a strong say here, too: “Given nurses’ ability to ensure patients receive coordinated care across the continuum, they are well positioned to advise boards about partnering with post-acute providers,” write authors Benson and Marla J. Weston, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer of the American Nurses Association.

The Nurses on Boards Coalition that Benson oversees was founded in 2016 by AARP, RWJF, and 18 nursing organizations. Its goal is to get 10,000 nurses on boards by the year 2020—boards of hospitals and health care systems, yes, but also of community organizations, businesses, agencies, schools, and associations. As the series makes clear, the nature of the work they do means nurses bring a unique perspective to decision-making, one that can lead to better governance.