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More nurses are at the table

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Pilot initiative shows significant growth in board service.

During difficult times, the roles nurses play on the frontline of healthcare are at the forefront of the public’s awareness. Their clinical expertise is essential in daily practice but also can have significant impacts in healthcare and beyond when nurses bring their knowledge to the boardroom.

A timely example was recently seen at Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Parkview Health nurses participated in the first Nurses on Boards Pilot Initiative launched by the American Nurses Foundation (Foundation) in the summer of 2018 thanks to the generosity of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. Parkview, a Magnet®-recognized organization, volunteered to work with the Foundation to develop messages and programming in support of the goal to increase Parkview nurses’ presence, awareness, and interest in serving on boards.

To establish an initial baseline number of nurses serving on boards, interest in serving on boards, and overall awareness of the national Nurses on Boards Coalition, the Foundation surveyed the entire Parkview nursing staff in the winter of 2019. Of the 875 initial responses, 5.7% of nurses were serving on a total of 70 boards, 26.5% were interested in serving on a board, and 11.5% were “very aware” of the national efforts. These findings were in close alignment with other hospitals participating in the pilot.

Over the next year, the Foundation and Parkview worked to incorporate programming about how nurses can affect the health and well-being of the Fort Wayne community and beyond when their perspectives are represented on boards. This included materials to introduce the basic concepts of board service and how to identify boards whose missions align with personal passions and interests. The initiative also focused on the impact nurses have on boards, the expertise they bring, and how serving on a board influences Parkview nurses’ practice.

“Parkview Health has been an extraordinary partner in this work. It began at the top with the dedication and vision of Judy Boerger, MBA, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing executive, and Vicki Maisonneuve, MSN, RN, CRRN, director of the Nursing Center of Excellence & Magnet,” said Allison Nordberg, program director at the American Nurses Foundation. “It extended to their entire nursing staff, including those who shared insights into their personal board experiences and others who took a leap forward in their leadership journeys by joining a board.”

Their commitment and willingness to take on new leadership roles have paid off.

A year after the first survey, the Foundation launched a second survey to track progress. The second survey received 566 responses. Of the respondents, 97 nurses (17%), responded that they were now serving on a total of 127 boards. Most notable were the 59 respondents who joined a board since January 1, 2019. Additionally, 70 respondents participated in leadership development programs.

Overall interest in serving on boards also increased, with 37.3% now interested in serving. This is a key statistic because an important component of choosing to serve on a board requires considering whether the board is the right fit, including expertise, time commitment, and overall alignment of interest and values. An increase of interest indicates that this initiative will have momentum as new opportunities arise.

Looking ahead, the work of the pilot will continue. The Foundation will re-survey other participating organizations and learn from nurses who have chosen to join boards. Their stories are important to collect and understand why they’ve chosen to serve and how their nursing expertise is improving their community.

To learn more, visit nursingworld.org/foundation/programs/nurses-on-boards.

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