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NYAM forum examines need and process of preparing nurses for new roles

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The Nursing Special Interest Group of The New York Academy of Medicine recently hosted a forum for nurse executives interested in bringing their knowledge and expertise to nonprofit, government and private organizations through board appointments.

The all-day workshop, held at the academy’s offices on April 3, provided information and insight into what board membership entails and why it is important for nurses to have a seat at the table.

The program included keynote presenter Diana Mason, RN, PhD, FAAN, president of the American Academy of Nursing and Rudin professor of nursing at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, and speaker Connie Curran, RN, EdD, FAAN, CEO of Best on Board and editor emerita, Nursing Economic$: The Journal for Healthcare Leaders. They discussed the need for more nurses to move into board roles and reviewed the essentials of board governance.

According to Mason, AAN has a keen interest in keeping track of how many RNs across the country have secured board appointments or are actively seeking to do so.

“We need to build an infrastructure around nurse appointments,” she said. “To do that, we need a database of nurses who want to sit on boards and those who already do, and we’re looking for an organization or school to house it.”

Mason is a member of New York State’s regional nursing action coalition to advance the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AARP Foundation. She said action coalitions from other states can provide the means of sharing this information.

Nurses in New Jersey have already started the ball rolling. “New Jersey looked at low-hanging fruit and went that route, going for state government appointments first,” Mason said. “That’s where [New York] should start as well.”

Curran has served on many private company and hospital boards over the past 30 years. Her company, Best on Board, specializes in educating and certifying those who are interested in trusteeship. She discussed how to prepare a resume, salary expectations and succession planning once a nurse becomes a board member.
The workshops included a breakout session in which participants chose one of three types of boards — non-profit, private/corporate and government — and sat with others to discuss strategies.

Some 30 nurse executives from both academia and service attended the workshop, most of whom were doctoral students, according to program co-chairwoman Donna Nickitas, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, FNAP, CNE, FAAN, professor at Hunter-Bellevue and executive officer, nursing PhD program, CUNY Graduate Center.

The idea for the workshop came after Nickitas, who is also editor of Nursing Economic$, published a series of articles on board governance written for the journal by Curran. Nickitas, along with program co-chairwoman Suellyn Ellerbe, RN, MN, NEA-BC, president and CEO of Suellyn Ellerbe and Associates, and Connie Vance, RN, EdD, FAAN, NYAM nursing leadership SIG chair and professor of nursing at the College of New Rochelle, forged a task force committee. The group plans to host other forums as well.

“Board membership is about raising nursing’s voice,” Nickitas said. “The next steps are to possibly develop a program that includes other disciplines, such as a finance workshop for non-finance professionals.”

The group currently has a membership of about 100 RNs who meet twice a year, Vance said.

“The SIG agreed that we should provide leadership in promoting some of the key findings and recommendations of the Future of Nursing initiative,” she said. “One of the ways to do this is to motivate and prepare nurses for governance roles. It’s important to have nursing’s unique values and perspectives influence healthcare in this country.”

Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.

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