With 94% of nurses being women, many of the barriers for women are also barriers for nurses: a lack of role models is one of them, but there's also a subtle stifling going on of this major sector of the workforce, exhibited through a lack of leadership succession training as well as a lack of recognition that nurses have the capabilities and knowledge necessary to lead a hospital.
About half (49%) of hospitals engage in succession planning, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives, but this process rarely involves nurses.
"In the corporate world… you identify these high potential individuals and you invest in them. You give them mentors and you put them on a critical path to promotion. I simply never saw that in hospitals," Curran says.
"As nurses, we undervalue our intellectual capital and others undervalue us as well, says Therese A. Fitzpatrick, PhD, RN, executive vice president of Assay Healthcare Solutions, a clinical labor management consulting firm.
Fitzpatrick and Curran coauthored the book, Claiming the Corner Office: Executive Leadership Lessons for Nurses, which tells the stories of men and women today with extraordinary careers who challenged the "traditional path" nurses take to achieve leadership positions to motivate today's nurses to think outside of the box.
"Hospitals are losing out on these leadership potentials because they're too blind to see what's right before their eyes," says nurse scholar and writer, Phyllis Beck Kritek, RN, PhD, FAAN, a speaker and consultant on conflict resolution, organizational development, leadership development, and gender and diversity.