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Nurses Need a Long Drive to the Boardroom

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, April 15, 2013

HR 'bears a real responsibility'
Human resources professionals could be the driving force that eventually upends the hierarchal mentality between physicians and nurses. But they need to step up, says Curran.

"HR people who should have the skillsets and the influence, I don't think really understand what nurses do, frankly. In terms of the kind of leadership they could bring to the table, in terms of the difficult personalities nurses deal with on a daily basis, the development of their own staff," says Fitzpatrick.

"Come up to a unit, come into a hospital on a weekend, and see who is holding the place together," says Curran. "I think HR bears a real responsibility here. HR in hospitals should be providing leadership on this issue, and they should be identifying nursing talent early and emphasizing the role of the manager in developing his or her people."

The focus of a nurse's daily existence is to provide the highest quality of patient care. With such a financial emphasis around patient satisfaction and quality healthcare, a hospital CEO that prioritizes quality patient care, and understands it at its most acute level, will serve its patients well by aligning a team toward that same mission.

It was big news last August when, after 80 years, the Augusta National Golf Club changed course and invited two women to become members. Change came slowly, and only after prolonged pressure from women's groups and corporate interests.

If a similar change is to come to healthcare's C-suite, nurses need to apply more upward pressure. And HR must exert some force and be a change agent.


Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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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.