No Nurses on Your Hospital Board? Why Not?

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, 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.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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