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6 CNO-to-CEO Strategies

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, June 18, 2013

Nurses should speak up when they're underrepresented on hospital boards, Curran says. She points out that the ratio of nurses to physicians on hospital boards is incredibly skewed when compared to the ratio of physicians to nurses who work in hospitals. Only a very, very small percentage of hospital board members are nurses, yet the majority of the workforce consists of nurses.

"I really believe nurses need to be on board for the sake of the patients as well as the sake of the other caregivers, but I don't see if happening," Curran says. "Who knows how the place runs on Christmas Eve? Nurses." Why wouldn't you want nurses who literally run the place on the board, she asks?

Although hospital executives and board members should work to inject a new and critical perspective into the good-old-boy network and make a conscious effort to get more nurses on their boards, Curran says nurses should take the initiative here and advocate for themselves, too.  

She tells chief nurses to get in front of CEOs and tell them they need a nurse on the board. Many times they'll get an "oh yeah" kind of response from the current board members. As in, "oh yeah, I never thought of that."  

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2 comments on "6 CNO-to-CEO Strategies"


Jackeline Biddle Shuler, DNP, JD, RN (6/18/2013 at 1:42 PM)
I agree with this article but there a few other fundamental issues at work with respect to nursing leadership dynamics. First, there doesn't seem to be enough room in healthcare leadership to accommodate executive nurse leaders of color. This is important because it speaks to the lack of commitment to the communities which are being served. Second, there doesn't seem be many opportunities to become an executive nurse leader to begin with. My experience is that getting all the right academic credentials is not enough because there isn't any kind of succession programs to help potential nurse leaders fulfill executive roles. That is how you get nurse leaders being complacent with staying at a CNO role because they know there isn't going to be much competition for that role so there is no incentive to mentor potential nurse leaders to assume that role so that they can assume CEO roles. What I see are executive nurse leaders moving from job to job in a lateral fashion causing what I call "stagnation" in CNO/ VP roles". Therefore, succession programs to get new blood into CNO roles and diversity are also key drivers to engaging more CNOs to want to aspire to CEO positions.

Betty Noyes (6/18/2013 at 1:20 PM)
Connie you are so RIGHT!!! We need to applaud those who have assumed the CEO role and served as Board Members! My experience at both was Great!!