Curran is CEO of Best on Board; a faculty member of the American College of Healthcare Executives; a member of the boards of directors for Hospira Inc., DeVry Inc., and DePaul University; and former chairman of the board of Silver Cross Hospital.
Nurses—most of whom are women—don't dream big enough, Curran says. "She should stop and think about where she is in her career and is that as far as she wants to go?" she says. "Has she reached the pinnacle of her dreams?"
Becoming CEO someday isn't an aspiration for many nurses, not simply because they're contented in their current role, but because it never occurs to them that they could be the CEO.
"I do think lots of times we set our bar, or our goal, or our dream too low," Curran says. Plus, many nurses are dedicated to patient care and don't want to move out of that realm. But she counters that nurses who move into chief executive roles can exercise great power and influence over improving patient care.
In fact, the desire to be a CEO "really comes from the very thing that makes you want to be a nurse," she says: Wanting to help people. She says nurse managers should ask themselves, "'Why wouldn't I want to run the hospital or be on the hospital board?' It's kind of an extension of your core mission."