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Nurses Need a Long Drive to the Boardroom

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, April 15, 2013

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.

Undervalued capital
"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.

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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.