Nurses’ valuable insight can bring a new perspective to every industry. Extreme dedication, unique experiences, and essential problem-solving skills help nurses to create an impact locally and nationally, and decision-makers have learned that these healthcare professionals have a plethora of valuable insight that must be heard in boardrooms across the country.
“Placing a nurse in a board position showcases the profession in a different light to those who don’t think of nurses as critical thinkers or leaders who could bring value to an organization’s decision making,” ONS member Laura Benson, RN, MS, ANP, who represents the Society on the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC), said. “People have an antiquated view of who nurses are and what nurses do, and there’s no better way to show them than to have nurses sit one-on-one in a discussion with them.”
NOBC advocates to improve the health of communities through the service of nurses on local and national boards. The coalition, of which ONS is a member organization, reports that more than 10,000 nurses registered in their database are currently serving in a board position. But that is just a portion of the country’s 3.1 million RNs.
“We know that nurses bring a unique perspective to board service, including being able to do a quick assessment, assimilate a lot of difficult information, and scale it back to a way that people can understand, as well as knowledge of health care and how patients act,” Benson said. “So, the question becomes: How do you get nurses in front of the boards that could benefit from having a nurse on it but may not even contemplate having a nurse on its board?”
The solution: partnering with other organizations that recognize the importance of nurses on boards and committees such as Diligent Director Network and Equilar, two organizations that work with corporate and nonprofit entities to encourage nurses to fill vacancies on their boards. Benson explained that the Diligent Director Network and Equilar’s services are available to all ONS members under the Society’s organizational membership in NOBC. She encouraged all ONS members who are serving on a board, or want to serve on a board, to register on NOBC’s website, which puts the nurse in NOBC’s databases and makes them visible as a potential candidate for a board opportunity. NOBC’s partnership with Diligent Director Network and Equilar will help interested boards identify qualified applicants, in addition to offering nurses feedback as they work through the interview process.
Equilar also partners with ethnic and gender diversity organizations to advance diverse representation in boardrooms. Benson emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion in the nursing profession, indicating that inclusivity is not only critical for the nurses who are aiming for board leadership positions, but that it also directly impacts the communities nurses represent as board members.
“We try to prioritize boards that will impact underserved communities,” Benson said. “For example, there are nutritional deserts in many parts of the country. How can we work with the local farming community to bring not only information and fresh fruits and vegetables to people who don’t have access to it, but also how do we teach them then to do local farming in their backyard or in containers? We try to target or identify a problem, and then work with organizations to meet those needs.”
Consider using your voice in industries outside of health care through board service and strive for change in your community. You can register to be a part of NOBC’s database at no cost to begin your journey into board service and take advantage of the resources available to you such as NOBC’s online resources and its partnerships with Diligent Director Network and Equilar.