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Nurses Need a Long Drive to the Boardroom

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, April 15, 2013

Golf is a by-the-rules game, as anyone paying attention to Tiger Woods' controversial ball drop at the Masters tournament over the weekend can attest. The very particular rules of the Augusta National Golf Club itself are amusing. They call for no sitting in the standing areas, no standing in the sitting areas, and no fanny packs larger than 10 inches wide.

But it's the patriarchal rules of golf culture that have always baffled me. Until last year, the rules at Augusta famously and stubbornly said 'no women allowed.'

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Healthcare has some patriarchal rules of its own in effect, if you haven't noticed. Now I don't think anyone in healthcare is actually saying 'no nurses allowed,' but you wouldn't know it by peeking into the C-suite. Hospital boardrooms and CEO positions are lacking representation from the largest sector of the healthcare workforce—nurses.

With the emphasis on patient satisfaction and improving the quality of healthcare, clinical experience is becoming essential to effective leadership in the hospital C-suite. Seeing physicians in hospital CEO positions and at the boardroom table is becoming more commonplace. So why aren't there more nurses among them?

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2 comments on "Nurses Need a Long Drive to the Boardroom"


Jason Uppal (4/21/2013 at 9:45 PM)
I am not a nurse and not married to one either ... i do agree .. here are my thoughts Silent Leaders of Change Twenty five years ago when I was asked to improve health and safety performance of a car manufacturing plant, the change leaders were not the CEO, or Plant Managers. The true leaders were the people on the shop floor. They were the unsung heroes to implement and drive real change. Not because somebody asked them, because change had positive impact in their work life and leadership freed them to realize change. Similarly, if we want to improve quality and safety of patient care in hospitals, we need to tap our silent leaders – Nurses and lets free them to do their job.

Phyllis Kritek (4/16/2013 at 2:39 PM)
Thank you for an excellent report on an important issue! It is encouraging to see Health Leaders Media addressing issues that are not only important to nurse leaders but to all who hope that health care organizations will seek the best possible leaders to grapple with the complexities of todays's health care world. If health care organizations are serious about hiring clinical leaders for CEO and COO positions, it is difficult to imagine any potential leadership pool is better equipped than experienced CNOs.