Nurses can help hospitals make better decisions and operate more efficiently.

Nurse stands in hospital hallway holding notebook.Nurses are the backbone of hospitals. Without them, our healthcare system would cease to function. And yet, nurses fill only 2%–6% of the seats on hospital boards.* Fortunately, that’s in the process of changing. The American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nursing have launched an initiative to place 10,000 nurses on governing boards by 2020. This will help increase the influence of nurses and nursing degree students. However, more nurses on hospital boards won’t help only nurses. It can help the entire hospital. Here’s why.

Nurses Can Speak for Patients

With newer doctors spending increasingly less time with patients, the role of nurses in patient care is becoming even more important. In most hospitals, the nursing staff is the group that’s most directly involved with patients. This gives nurses unique insights into patient needs and changes in patient populations—exactly the kind of insights hospital boards need to make optimal decisions.

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Policies Need Nurse Buy-In to Be Effective

In a hospital, the largest group of employees is the nursing staff.§ That means nurses are often responsible for implementing and administering hospital policy. Having a nurse on a hospital board can help ensure that the nursing staff agrees with and is committed to policy changes before they are enacted. Nurse buy-in is essential for effective hospital management.

Nurses Communicate Well With Non-Medical Professionals

Nurses are trained to talk with patients and communities. They can communicate medical terminology in a way that makes sense to those without medical training. This can be a useful skill on a hospital board where a certain percentage of seats are held by community and business leaders. By helping to ensure everyone on the board is on the same page, nurses can help prevent costly miscommunications.

Supporting Nurses Can Improve Hospital Operations

When a nurse sits on a board, they have a say in the most important decisions affecting the nursing staff. This can empower a hospital’s nurses and help prevent issues of disgruntlement and burnout. Every business works better with an engaged staff. Giving nurses a voice can help improve a hospital’s overall operations.

Nurses Need to Play a Key Role in Value-Based Care

The U.S. healthcare system is increasingly moving toward value-based care. To achieve the operational efficiencies and patient outcomes necessary to succeed under this system, hospitals will need staff who fully understand what value-based care requires. Including a nurse on the hospital board can help ensure that the hospital’s largest group of employees will know how to make value-based care work for both the hospital and its patients.

How You Can Improve Your Chances of Sitting on a Board

The goal of adding 10,000 nurses to hospital boards will open up a lot of opportunities for nurses. If your ambition is to sit on a board, you might first consider enrolling in an online nursing degree program. An online nursing degree can give you a leg up by increasing your knowledge of nursing and improving your overall résumé. Plus, by earning your nursing degree online, you can take advantage of all the convenience and flexibility offered by online education. For instance, you can earn your degree online while still holding down your current job.

Online universities offer such in-demand degrees as Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), PhD in Nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). These degrees can put you in a better position to earn a seat on a hospital board.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online nursing degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*C. Huff, Ready to Serve, American Hospital Association Trustee, on the Internet at

†American Nurses Association, National Coalition Launches Effort to Place 10,000 Nurses on Governing Boards by 2020, news release, on the Internet at

‡P. Chen, For New Doctors, 8 Minutes Per Patient, Well (New York Times blog), on the Internet at

§American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nursing Fact Sheet, on the Internet at University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

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