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Nursing Representation on Organizational or Systems Boards of Trustees


Nursing Representation on Organizational or Systems Boards of Trustees

Hospital boards are bodies put in place to govern a healthcare organization in advisory capacity and to take care of the owner’s interests. The boards have a legal responsibility to ensure that they fulfill the mission of a healthcare organization. Board of trustees operate independently from the hospital management. Thus they breach the gap between the management and the ownership (Satiani, & Prakash, 2016). Members of the board of trustees represent the entire community in various capacities. The members are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring patient safety and also to ensure that the care that the patients receive is of good quality. Members include lawyers, business leaders, leaders in the government and in the private sector, and physicians among others. Over the years we have seen very few nurses being part of the hospital’s board of trustees, something that ought to change.

Unique Value That a Nurse Brings to The Boardroom

One of the main responsibilities of the board of trustees is ensuring safety of the patients and ensuring that the patients receive quality care (Satiani, & Prakash, 2016). The members are chosen due to their ability to contribute and offer their expertise on areas such as finance, marketing, negotiations, ethics, among others. Having a nurse as a member of the board of trustees will help ensure that the board will have knowledge on how to improve quality of the care given. Nurses interact directly with the patients most of their time, more than the physicians or any other medical staff. This means that the nurses are at a better place of understanding the needs of the patients. The nurses understand what patients’ need, how low quality care affects them and how to improve safety of the patients (Porter-O’Grady, & Malloch, 2018). Thus, their viewpoint would greatly help the board members fulfill one of its main responsibilities.

Area of Expertise for a Nurse in The Board

As a member of the board, a nurse would be expected to advice the board on the best ways to improve care and ensure safety of the patients. Due to their interaction with the patients, the nurses know the best practices that are beneficial to the patients. They know the clinical problems faced in ensuring quality healthcare and what can be done to deal with them. Nurses are result oriented (Satiani, & Prakash, 2016). They profession is an evidence-based one. This means that whatever the nurses are involved in they expect to see results. They apply certain clinical practices because they have evidence that such practices will work. They do not deal with mere theories, they look at what applies to their patients and uses it. Before a nurse can make a decision, he or she must check the outcome received from a certain practice before making a decision to use or not to use it.

Their ability to understand the needs of the patients go a long way in helping the board to make critical decisions when it comes to quality of the care provided to the patients and also their safety. Due to the time spent with the patients, the nurses provide a perspective that no other board member can give (Satiani, & Prakash, 2016).

Skills and Credentials Required

For the nurses to be effective members of the board they need to have certain skills and credentials. As seen earlier, the nurses are good decision makers when it comes to matters pertaining quality of care given. The nurses often have to make decisions under pressure. They assess the situation that a patient is in and provide solution to it (Porter-O’Grady, & Malloch, 2018). For example when a patient is in chronic pain and the drugs being administered are not effective, a nurse has to assess that situation and come up with a solution that will help ease the pain of the patient. The ability of the nurses to make critical decisions especially under pressure can be quite beneficial to the board.

Nurses are known to be ethical and of great integrity. Nurses will hardly involve themselves in practices that are unethical. On the contrary, business leaders and government agents are known to be quite unethical sometimes especially when it comes to making profits through unacceptable means. Thus, the nurses can help ensure that any decisions made by the board are ethical. This will help avoid any legal problems.

The knowledge of the nurses on issues such as health promotion can be quite beneficial to the board (Porter-O’Grady, & Malloch, 2018). The nurses may be limited when it comes to business knowledge. However, they compensate for this by having great knowledge when it comes to health issues. The nurses know what can be done to promote health and what determines a healthy lifestyle. They have the knowledge of how to promote health, both at community and individual level.

One of the main reasons why the government and even private entities are reluctant with involving nurses as members of the board is because of conflict of interests (Porter-O’Grady, & Malloch, 2018). To ensure that the nurse chosen as a board member represents the larger nursing community, it is very important to ensure that any conflict of interest between the board and the nurse is dealt with. A nurse chosen should have the interests of the patients and the hospital at heart. No one should be chosen out of selfish reasons.


Mason, D. J., Keepnews, D., & Murray, E. (2013). The representation of Health professionals on governing boards of health care organizations in New York City. The New York academy of medicine, 90(5): 888-901. Doi: 10.1007/s11524-012-9772-9

Porter-O’Grady, T., & Malloch, K. (2018). Quantum leadership: creating sustainable value in health care (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Barlett Learning

Satiani, B., & Prakash, S. (2016). It is time for more physician and nursing representation on hospital boards in the US. Journal of hospital & medical management, 2(1). Doi:10.4172/2471-9781.100011


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