Nurses Encouraged to Take Voices From Bedside to Board Rooms

Ninety percent of the world's healthcare services are performed by nurses and midwives, according to the International Council of Nurses. Yet the voice of nursing isn't being heard in board rooms.

"When you look at hospital boards and healthcare boards, nurses make up less than 5%," said Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, FAAN, vice president of CE programming for OnCourse Learning, a leading provider of healthcare education. "Health is in every facet of our lives. We offer a very different perspective because of our first-hand experience caring for other human beings. We need to value that and demonstrate how our voice can affect positive change."

The national Nurses on Boards Coalition, which is made up of two dozen national nursing and healthcare organizations, has a goal of placing 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020. According to the coalition's website, NursesOnBoardsCoalition.org, more than 3,000 nurses are serving on various boards across the United States.

"Nurses tend to undervalue their knowledge and experience," Mensik said. "You don't need fancy degrees. You don't need tons of experience. You just need to share your passion and vision for helping others."

Local hospital, public health and school boards are among the most prominent groups with nurse members, according to Mensik. In addition, each state government publishes a list of boards and commissions on its website.

"We have such a powerful voice and we do so much, but quite often we let other people go to the forefront and make decisions," Mensik said. "How much more powerful could our change be if we stepped up and sat at the board table?"

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