Experts Advise Adding Nurses to Hospital Boards

Experts Advise Adding Nurses to Hospital Boards

A recent article in “Trustee Magazine,” suggests adding a nurse to a hospital board of trustees is an often overlooked position. With 3.6 million nurses in the United States, only 5 percent of hospital trustees are nurses. Northeastern Health System falls within that five percent with the addition of Nurse Carol Choate, who has served on the hospital board of trustees for 15 years. “Nurses have a comprehensive understanding of patient care that helps drive decision making, whether it be about quality, finance or outcomes,” said VP of System Clinical Operations at NHS, Amy Williams. “As healthcare continues to evolve, it is important to have a collaborative approach, and nurses must have a seat at the table.” The contributions nurses make as board members in hospitals are quantifiable. “A University Health System Consortium analysis found a correlation between the number of nurse trustees at hospitals and better performance in both quality and safety. Having a nurse on the board also creates a work environment that leads to higher retention rates for staff nurses. “Staff level clinical representation is valuable,” said NHS VP of Patient Care, Donna Dallis. “Carol is able to look at it from the board, the hospital, the community and the staff’s perspective.” The traditional board makeup has leaned heavily on trustees with financial backgrounds, such as bankers and business executives. But that focus on the balance sheet and developing new lines of business has needed adjustment over the past decade as payers such as Medicare and many large insurers have begun demanding quality-of-care information and improvement. Nurses, who spearhead many quality improvement initiatives, are also tied...