The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing

The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are hot topics in the healthcare world, but including a DEI module in our yearly education isn’t enough to address these issues. Policy is a valuable tool, but actual change needs to come from a more personal level, from each and every staff member.

Before we can have a meaningful conversation about DEI that might lead us toward significant change, we need to understand the meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion and why it is important in healthcare.

First, the issues often relate to our biases, especially those so deeply ingrained in our life circumstances that we aren’t aware of them. We can’t advocate for what we don’t understand, and if we don’t advocate for change, we will stay in our “safe” silos, which only strengthens the idea that we are separate and different.

Understanding that we are separate and different and what that means is the first step in making diversity, equity, and inclusion a part of our workspace and nurse recruitment.

Diversity

Diversity is simply including people with different backgrounds. For example, when healthcare systems conduct nurse staffing while considering different cultural, gender, religious, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic backgrounds, the staff benefits from exposure to differences among coworkers, and patients feel more comfortable knowing they aren’t alone.

Our healthcare system has been lacking in diversity from the beginning, and although we’ve seen a lot of progress since the days when only white males could practice medicine, we are far from diverse.

In one study, over 56% of physicians identified as White and 64% as male, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). According to Minority Nurse, about 75% of RNs identify as White, and 91% are female. So if most doctors and nurses are white, most doctors are male, and most nurses are female, who are we really serving?

When we don’t have a common background, it’s easy to make the mistake of seeing the patient through our own lens instead of their reality. Our lenses place them where we want them to be—fully able and capable of taking the steps we want them to take for their health. The outcomes we desire assume the tools, processes, and understanding are within their reach and that they have the same goals we do.

Textbook knowledge can never make up for the lack of diversity in our own lives. And our lack of understanding of our patients’ reality can lead to misunderstanding or errors in care, creating inequity. Hiring a diverse workforce promotes understanding and creates a more comfortable environment for patients and coworkers alike.

Equity

Equity is a concept that often gets confused with equality. In healthcare, equality means giving everybody the same resource or opportunity to achieve their health goals. Equity is recognizing that each person has different circumstances and honoring that by allocating opportunities and resources to allow them to reach an equal outcome.

Simply giving someone an opportunity isn’t enough if they don’t have the means to use it. Equity can only be achieved when nobody is allowed to be disadvantaged due to age, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, geographical background, or socioeconomic status.

Access to life-saving medication is an example of inequity we see every day. A medication that costs hundreds of dollars every month may not be out of reach for someone with superb insurance coverage and a large bank account. For someone whose job doesn’t offer prescription coverage or who doesn’t make a living wage, that life-saving medication is technically available but far out of their reach. Far too many patients fail to fill the prescriptions they need for this reason.

Healthcare policy can promote equity, but we can also change how we treat and educate patients. In our medication example, we could address a patient’s ability to obtain a prescription before they leave the office or hospital. No patient should walk out the door with a prescription they can’t fill.

Inclusion

Inclusion is about deliberately creating a respectful and safe environment for all staff and patients. Inclusion means giving patients and staff a voice in giving and receiving care and encouraging diversity. Healthcare isn’t the place for a one-size-fits-all approach. We must all strive to embrace diversity and promote equity.

Nurses Are Uniquely Positioned to Champion DEI

Nurses may have little say in enacting policy within their healthcare systems but are very likely the first and last staff member a patient sees and the role they interact with most frequently. That close relationship with our patients makes nurses the most important role to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion with our patients, in nursing education, and within our own workspaces.

One of the most essential directives we learned in nursing school may have been to meet patients where they’re at. Let’s add and coworkers to that and, together, we can create a more effective healthcare system that serves all people.

 

8 Problems Driving the Nurse Staffing Crisis

8 Problems Driving the Nurse Staffing Crisis

Today’s healthcare landscape has been riddled with hardship and systemic shifts. Large-scale downward trends were highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis, but originated beforehand and will require massive effort to reverse.

Unfortunately, the brunt of these inefficiencies and problems falls disproportionately on certain portions of the medical professional family. One primary example of this is the way problems in healthcare affect nurses. The rising stresses and demands on nursing professionals have initiated a drastic nurse staffing crisis, emptying the nursing ranks across the country, and creating significant employment shortages.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, vacant nursing positions across the United States hover at almost 200,000 openings each year. A number of problems are contributing to this reality and need to be resolved.

1. Nurses Are Often Unreasonably Responsible for the Weight of Patient Advocacy

Historically, nurses have often taken the lion’s share of responsibility for patient advocacy. This can refer to calling for fair and adequate treatment, helping other medical professionals understand the particulars of patient cases and needs, mediating and safeguarding for vulnerable patients, and more.

However, this burden can cause a significant amount of stress, especially when a nurse feels that they are advocating for patients’ needs in the face of apathy or even resistance from fellow medical professionals who might have differing priorities.

2. COVID-19 Requirements Drove Many Nurses Out the Door

COVID-19 requirements and vaccine mandates created huge turbulence for nurses across the medical landscape. Many that disagreed with requirements or how they were put into effect left the workforce. This created another large drain on an already depleted nursing population.

3. Workplace Stress is Compounded for Nurses – It Comes from Both Sides

Nurses often liaise between patients (and their friends or families) and fellow medical staff. When tensions rise; stressful or difficult situations bring out the worst in people; or priorities differ between stakeholders in a patient’s care, nurses can find themselves caught in the middle.

They often have to diffuse the stress exuded by patients, family, partners, and friends as well as helping navigate the stress and difficulties their fellow medical personnel experience. It’s an incredibly difficult job.

4. Compensation is a Never-Ending Battle

Because nursing roles vary drastically by amount of compensation and type of contract, nurses don’t often enjoy the job security that other medical professionals do.

5. Current Inefficiencies of Healthcare System Fall More Heavily on Nurses

The nature of nursing roles means that when the medical field experiences turbulence or systemic problems, that uncertainty or strain inordinately affects nurses.

6. The Problem is Self-Propelling: Nurse Shortages Beget More Nursing Shortages

Burnout and the long-term stress of overwork is one of the most critical problems affecting the nursing population. When some nurses quit their jobs or leave a medical facility, or when open positions remain vacant for long periods of time, the existing workload falls on the nurses that remain.

This compounds the stress, overwork, and impossible expectations that remaining nurses experience, making it more likely that those remaining nurses will succumb to the stress as well and leave the workforce.

7. Pandemic’s Effects on Medical Training

COVID-19 created staggering difficulties for medical trainees across the board. Many nursing students that were in school during the height of the pandemic would have lost out on valuable class time or training weren’t able to complete parts of their coursework, or were called up early into the workforce to cover drastic needs and shortages. Many of these new nurses entered employment feeling unprepared and more susceptible to intense stress and burnout, thus ending up more likely to leave the field.

8. Average Nursing Age Looms Over Staffing Projections

The average age of nurses across the country was 50 years old in 2018. The current number of new nurses entering the workforce will not replace the large number of nursing professionals quickly reaching retirement age. If these trends do not change, projections are dire for how nursing shortages will increase over the next decade.

How to Correct These Issues

These large-scale realities are significant and systemic. It will take significant, intentional action to correct course and make the nursing profession more accessible and sustainable. If the healthcare system can take corrective action to lessen the stresses that fall on nurses, make their jobs more secure, and help spread the responsibilities nurses currently hold more collaboratively amongst other medical professionals, we can reverse these trends.

Improving Student Outcomes With Integrated Certification and Licensing Tools

Improving Student Outcomes With Integrated Certification and Licensing Tools

Higher education is evolving. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, distance education in master’s nursing programs has been steadily rising since 2015, offering improved access, flexibility, and student advancement. In fact, a recent survey reports that a primary target demographic for online programs is adults returning to school.

Distance education opens opportunities for non-traditional students to advance their careers under different circumstances. A recent report by Deloitte showed that 26% of higher education students hold full-time jobs while attending school, and 44% are 24 or older. A virtual learning experience is a good fit for professionals juggling work and home responsibilities along with their post-graduate education.

A roundup of data on higher learning noted that, among graduate students in the United States, 52% felt their online courses were a “better learning experience” than their onsite classes. The flexibility of online learning accommodates the schedules of busy professionals, while the constant technological evolution of distance learning provides a more customizable experience than traditional classroom learning.

Student_Outcomes

Early distance education was similar to the one-dimensional lecture style of in-person learning. From the original mail-based correspondence courses and televised classes to the first fully online degree programs in 1989, the concept largely remained the same—you read, watched, or listened to an educator lecture.

This model may be familiar, but it’s an inflexible learning environment that is only optimal for some students, while others struggle to adapt their learning needs to fit. In recent years, this approach has begun to evolve, leveraging more innovations in technology.

The Harvard Business Review reports that colleges allocate only 5% of their budget to IT, but that is expected to quickly change. Global impact intelligence platform HolonIQ predicts that EdTech venture capital will nearly triple over the next decade.

As distance education shifts from simple remote learning to next-generation technologies and as non-traditional students become the new normal, it’s time to set aside the old one-dimensional learning tools and engage your graduate students in a learning experience that empowers them to reach their next-level goals.

Digital Test Prep Is the Next Step

The growing momentum in the digital learning environment has created new ways to reach different types of learners. Online learning has gone from static to interactive, using innovations such as virtual simulations, virtual and augmented reality, mobile devices, and cloud technology.

Certification_Exams_Licensing_Exams

As education evolves with technology, educators are finding modern ways to adapt the one-size-fits-all lecture style to accommodate different learning needs.

Interactive exam preparation is the natural next step for today’s nursing and social work graduate students. One tool has everything you need to connect your faculty and students for a powerful learning experience. Using technology and analytics, ExamPrepConnect University Solutions creates a personalized interactive learning experience to prepare your students for the culmination of their post-graduate education—their certification and licensure exams.

Supercharge Your Recruitment

When you give faculty a customizable tool that improves student engagement, outcomes, and exam pass rates, you create a compelling recruitment narrative for prospective students. Your graduates’ successes say more to prospective students than a brochure ever could.

Empower Your Faculty

While other exam prep tools leave students to prepare on their own, ExamPrepConnect University Solutions brings your faculty into the process to provide students with support to achieve passing scores. Increase engagement and identify the unique needs of your students’ by assigning curricula backed by a powerful metric dashboard to prepare them to pass their certification or licensure exam.

ExamPrepConnect for Faculty:

  • Assess test performance.
  • Assign and tracking curricula.
  • Identify strengths/weaknesses.
  • Intervene based on data.
  • Tailor teaching to student needs.

Engage Your Students

Interactive content is designed to boost student performance through customizable study plans, optimized to support personal learning styles. Students can review content any time, on any device, that accommodates their preferred learning styles.

Whether they learn best through visual, auditory, reading/writing, or hands-on means, ExamPrepConnect University Solutions has the tools to support their learning process and ensure they’re certification or licensure ready.

ExamPrepConnect for students:

  • Interactive content review.
  • Q&A with rationales.
  • Simulated exams.
  • Discussion boards.
  • Flashcards.
  • Games.

Seeing Is Believing

Meet with an ExamPrepConnect expert for a demonstration of how ExamPrepConnect University Solutions prepares your students for high stakes exams, such as FNP, PMHNP, and AGNP certifications in nursing and ASWB, master’s, and bachelor’s licensure in social work. The demonstration is customized to your needs, just as ExamPrepConnect University Solutions is customized to your faculty and student needs. Click Request Demo to send a message to our demo team.

Learn more!

 

Request a demo!

AMSN Tool Helps Hiring in COVID-19 Crisis

AMSN Tool Helps Hiring in COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has sent the world into an upheaval. While the virus has continued to sicken people unimpeded by a vaccine or preventive medication, the healthcare industry grapples with an overwhelming  amount of patients even as many healthcare workers become ill themselves.

The intersection of caring for so many while losing workers to quarantine or illness is also creating an urgent need for more nurses. To help facilitate an efficient and accurate hiring process for healthcare organizations, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) recently released a free online tool to help match nurses with the specific competencies that are most needed in hospitals and organizations.

The self-assessment tool helps employers save time and effort when both are in short supply while providing a more direct process for identifying and placing nurses with the best skills match into relevant and appropriate roles. The self-assessment helps nurses assess where their strengths are—a long-term career advantage for them and a long-term advantage to the hiring employer.

“AMSN believes that competencies are the best way to assess performance and identify needed professional development opportunities for medical-surgical nurses,” says Terri Hinkley, EdD, MBA, BScN, RN, CAE, and AMSN CEO. “Nurses are stepping up and entering the workforce to assist during this crisis. We want to provide them with a tool that will help them critically evaluate their competence so they are able to contribute to the best of their professional ability.”

Hinkley says the self-assessment tool, which will be followed by a full competency model in the fall, helps employers in a couple of ways.  “It provides an out-of-the-box tool for employers to be able to best place new employees and contingent workers at a time where things are very disrupted and they may find themselves in urgent need for staff,” she says.

The available tool helps nurses perform a self assessment on domains of practice including patient and practice management and professional concepts, with sub-domains including the nursing process, patient safety, infection prevention, medication management, education of patients and families, leadership, and critical thinking. “It allows nurses to reflect on their individual skills specifically related to their practice setting, which means it’s tailored to the work they will be doing and is not a general competency evaluation,” says Hinkley.

And when the full competency model launches, it will it evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of individual nurses, and it will include a soft-skill assessment and will be measurable to organizational outcomes, she says.

As employers use the self-assessment tool results, which focus on knowledge, skills, and abilities, they will be able to analyze specifics for each nurse and match those with the hiring needs in their organization. With such specific details, employers will also be able to consider the long-range fit of hiring a nurse as a potential-long-term employee. If the skills, abilities, and competencies in particular practice settings are a good match, the nurse’s career path and the healthcare organization’s nursing needs might provide opportunities for both.

As many nursing students are being called to help patients now, Hinkley says this kind of assessment is especially valuable. “AMSN also believes the self-assessment has great utility for nursing students who now find themselves displaced from their final semester of school and looking for employment,” she says. “It allows these individuals to assess their abilities to enter into nursing practice as graduate nurses, pending licensure, with a solid understanding of their level of competence in medical-surgical care settings.”

According to AMSN, healthcare employers who want to try this tool to help them navigate this urgent hiring need while making the best placements and assignments in a short time frame, should start by looking at www.AMSNStaffingToolkit.org, where they can follow additional instructions. Nurses who are asked to complete the 20-minute online self-assessment survey, can then print or email and submit to the appropriate manager.

 

 

 

A Nurse’s Guide to Understanding Digital Recruitment Trends

A Nurse’s Guide to Understanding Digital Recruitment Trends

A Nurse’s Guide to Understanding Digital Recruitment Trends

 

 

More and more health care organizations are using big data, predictive analysis, and data metrics to streamline the process of recruiting nursing talent. Over one-third of human resources departments rely on analytics to manage staffing, according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report. That trend has exploded over the last few years, as organizations lean on technology in earnest. For example, approximately 95% of hospitals use an applicant tracking system (ATS), which is like a gigantic digital filing cabinet full of resumes, according to industry experts.

Big data (or people data) may sound intimidating to nurses who aren’t tech savvy, but the information that they refer to is often quite simple. “Facebook, Google, the U.S. government—even my own tiny website has its own big data,” says Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN, an informatics expert based in Nashville, Tennessee who owns the popular blog The Nerdy Nurse

Big data usually means extremely large data sets, which help reveal patterns and associations, especially relating to human behavior or that look at trends and systems and help make a determination, explains Wilson.

“Data is everywhere and almost all of it is discoverable. I always tell nurses to not post anything online that they wouldn’t put in front of a recruiter when they’re applying for a job. You have to assume that someone is scraping that data and applying it to an algorithm,” she adds.

How Organizations Collect People Dataand What That May Mean for You

In a recruiting context, a nurse’s personal information can be culled from social media profiles, consumer data, and public records, in addition to a hospital’s personnel data or those of a third-party recruiting program vendor. That nurse’s individual data points can then be merged into bigger data sets, so analysts can create algorithms or statistical models that aim to predict which candidates are equipped to succeed in a given role.

For example, automated systems can spit out resumes from applicants in a certain zip code, based on an algorithm set to predict turnover. Perhaps previous employees with that zip code may have been short-timers, due to a grueling driving commute or unreliable mass transit.

Then even if nurses knew why they were getting the cold shoulder from a piece of software, there’s not much they can do about it. Their home address data is out there and available to hospitals, even if they attempted to hide it by using another street address, through a UPS or other office forwarding service, say.

But what if that undesirable zip code is for an area with a large minority population? Recruiters and IT folks are starting to realize how digital “gates,” based on zip code and such, may adversely impact underrepresented populations. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission frowns on practices which essentially “profile” applicants and employees.

“We need to attract more racial and ethnic minorities to nursing,” says David Wilkins, chief strategy officer of Woburn, Massachusetts-based HealthcareSource, a provider of talent management systems for hospitals. “We’re thin in labor supply and there’s a high labor demand.” The unemployment rate in health care is so low—RNs at 1.4%, and NPs at 1.1%, according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. “With such an acute shortage, it’s hard to believe that people are consciously turning away any candidates.” Wilkins wonders if unconscious bias, such as when an applicant has an ethnic sounding name, may be at play.

Crowdsourcing, One Surprising Cyber Trend in Recruiting

Relode is an innovative crowdsource referral platform for health care recruiting. “In 2014, we saw there were lots of inefficiencies in the hiring process and wanted to use software to solve this problem,” says Joe Christopher, chief technology officer at the Brentwood, Tennessee-based firm. “The platform allows our small team to work on thousands of jobs. Health care is profession-centric, so staffing agencies are ultimately working with the company. We’re trying to help you, as a nurse, to take your next step.”

A nurse can sign up on the Relode portal, then work with a talent adviser who will set up a profile and then make a match with an appropriate job opportunity based on the nurse’s experience, skill set, goals, and other desires. “As a new grad, you may have to take what’s available, but if we know you ultimately want to go back to California, we can help. What if we can connect you to this great employer [in another state] who can train you? And then after a year or two, you can go back home to California or wherever. Or you might like it and want to stay longer.”

Relode offers nurses a way to earn side income through its crowdsourcing platform. “Nurses are used to thinking, ‘if I need extra money, I need to work an extra shift.’ But we believe the best nurse knows another best nurse. So as a travel nurse, for instance, you may know nurses in Dallas and Phoenix, and if you connect us and that person gets hired, we pay $3,500 directly into your account,” says Christopher. In fact, one nurse signed up with Relode and referred seven other nurses, earning money for connecting people she already knew to new opportunities, he adds.

Make Sure Your Online Application is Optimized for Search Engines

Human resource experts claim that very little recruiting happens without technology anymore. “Your first point of entry is very likely going to be a piece of software, an applicant tracking system. It has to determine the degree of fit between you and the job. So, make sure your resume is well-structured, clean, and easy to parse for an applicant tracking system,” says Wilkins. “Focus less on making it look pretty, and instead, make it very scannable and readable. The average time someone is going to look at it is six seconds.”

A big part of what applicant tracking systems search for is keywords and phrases. Recruiters may be carrying 100 plus openings at one time so they can’t look at all the resumes for each position. “In order to be seen, yours must be in the top 10 or top 20 ranking,” he says. “You should have multiple resumes to make sure the keywords match. Most of the time organizations tailor job titles and descriptions to a particular opening.”

A Travel Nurse Weighs in on High-Tech, Low-Touch Recruiting

Jake Schubert, RN, BSN, travel nurse and owner of Nursity.com, an online NCLEX prep course, is no stranger to the recruiting process and shares a few key insights.

1. The nurse-recruiter relationship is becoming less and less personal.

I get hundreds of emails from travel nurse recruiters all saying basically the same thing: “would love to work with you… would love to work with you… would love to work with you…” Don’t spam nurses with phone calls and emails. You don’t like it when people do that to you, so why would you do it to them? But if you really want to be effective, stop with the spam and make your message personal. For example, you can go to my Instagram and you’ll see that I love to scuba dive. Then reach out to me there with something personal like, “Hey I noticed you like to dive. We have contracts with three hospitals in Florida that are close to some great dive sites.” But no, they don’t do that. Instead they fall back on the same line: “Let me know when you you’re ready to start traveling with the best recruiting company!” I feel like responding: “Let me know when I’m relevant to you.”

2. Many nurses are naïve about a recruiter’s role and motives.

New graduates and some other nurses may think: “This recruiter is really on my side.”  But they’re not—they’re being paid by their company so that’s where their loyalty lies. They know when you’re not asking for enough money, for instance, but they won’t tell you where you’re leaving money on the table. It’s not like other industries where people are required to disclose a conflict of interest—when real estate brokers represent both sides in a transaction, they’re legally required to disclose their dual agency.

3. Nurses have the power to create better relationships with recruiters.

I’m one of the thousands of nurses working with Kaiser Permanente right now. You go online and create a profile on their portal, and they email you when an appropriate job pops up. But that’s not how all jobs get filled in a hospital. It’s all about relationships. Managers are always asking me “Jake, do you know anyone who’s looking for a job?” Every hospital is looking for good nurses, and nurses who have good communication skills are hard to find. If I had one piece of advice for new graduates, it’s “Don’t text a recruiter, and don’t think of email as a long text. Email is an online version of a letter, so don’t leave out the niceties.” When you communicate fully, you show that you’re different and that you have professional communication skills.

So, for instance, if you were applying for a job as a dialysis nurse, Wilkins would advise the use of a preponderance of keywords related to that specialty. “Of course, use the word ‘dialysis,’ but also all the words alongside it and related terms and synonyms.

Dialysis in an elder-care, or long-term care setting, is different than working with general patients at an outpatient dialysis care clinic. Use senior care words, long-term care versus outpatient care words. The care job is probably the same but the stuff on the edges is different.”

Wilkins offers a final caveat regarding online application systems, which sounds basic, but could torpedo your candidacy if ignored. “The average completion for an online application is around 15%, which means 85% of online applications are never completed. While in some cases, this is because a candidate changes their mind mid-process, most of the time it’s just because the process is long and complex,” he explains. “But the really scary data is that 15% of people think they’ve actually fully submitted their application when they really haven’t. Sometimes they just miss the ‘submit’ button at the end. Go back and make sure you completed all the steps.”

Nurses shouldn’t forget to update their own employer’s human resource portal—it makes it easier for the department (or a hiring manager) to identify internal candidates. When there’s a job requisition for an assistant nurse manager with a master’s degree and a set of relevant experience, for instance, a recruiter can look through the hospital’s internal database of qualified nurses before posting the job publicly.

How to Protect Your Online Privacy When Job Searching

“We need to educate nurses that when you put your resume out there on any career site—upload it to CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed—you’re selling access to that resume,” warns Christopher. An applicant may upload a resume and forget about it, but when they get an email or call from a recruiter, wonder: “How did they get my number?!” When you trace it back, almost always it was that uploaded resume and the terms of service that allow recruiters to contact you.

There are workarounds though, that will protect your privacy without hampering your job search. “Lots of people are able to set up an email address specifically for this use—you’d check it once a day if you’re in the job market, or once a week if you’re not,” says Christopher. “Sometimes the systems also require a phone number. You may be able to set up a Google voice number or use another solution like that.”

When using online job engines and portals, be aware that there are games that some unscrupulous recruiters play, says Christopher. For instance, “a staffing agency that does lots of work with nurses may put up a job listing for an opening that doesn’t exist” at the moment. That gives them a running start for handling hard-to-fill roles, “so that when an employer asks for an ICU nurse, say, they already have 10 nurses that have applied for that. Indeed will no longer host agency jobs, the listing has to be from the employer,” because of recruiter abuses. “Even now Indeed offers applicants a way to filter jobs—there’s an employer of record option.”

Present Your Best Cyber Self to Snag a Job

Nurses and talent recruiters are both figuring out the new communications etiquette, with some stumbles along the way. “I get text messages from recruiters pretty frequently. I was shocked the first time because they contacted me on a very non-professional manner, in my opinion,” says Regina Callion, RN, MSN, travel nurse and owner of ReMar Review, an NCLEX review program.

“Greetings will be skipped, and it will pretty much say ‘Make 10,000 dollars in a month! Sign up today for xyz.’ The lack of formality and information provided is a turnoff.”

That anti-text sentiment is common, even among some Millennial, digital native nurses. “My cell number is the last bastion of privacy for me,” Wilson says. “I don’t want to get a text from a recruiter without my consent. It feels like you entered my living room and sat on the couch and don’t even know who I am.”

But recruiters say that reaching out to nurses in the traditional way isn’t efficient, so they have to employ new channels. “Our team has found that texting is a really great way to communicate for nurses. They’re busy and so instead of leaving a message and waiting for a call back, a text is a brief but direct conversation,” says Christopher. “Obviously, you have to know who the person is and agree to it, but texting is a really efficient way for us to say: ‘Here’s a great opportunity that meets three out of four of your criteria. Do you want to talk about it?’ Or if there’s a simple question from an employer, we can get a quick answer: ‘Are you licensed in California? I know you graduated from school there but …’”

The nurse-recruiter dance requires sensitivity and cooperation from each partner. Recruiters do a service for nurses, exposing them to opportunities they might not otherwise discover and fast-tracking their applications through the hiring process. Nurses can help recruiters by making themselves easier to find and by being open to approach. “It takes a lot of energy to look for a job, and it’s a lot like dating—when you’re not looking, that’s when you’re most desirable,” explains Wilson. “My job before this one was with a startup who found me because I’d SEO’d [search engine optimization, or the process of affecting the visibility of a web page] my profile online so well… I always tell people—take a phone call. You never know.”

NOBC Wants More Nurses Serving on Boards: Here’s Why

NOBC Wants More Nurses Serving on Boards: Here’s Why

In 2017, the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC) was founded with the mission “to improve health in communities across the nation through the service of nurses on all types of boards.

Laurie Benson, BSN, Executive Director of NOBC says that “The vision of NOBC was created in direct response to The Institute of Medicine’s 2011 landmark report, ‘The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,’ which called for nurses to play a more pivotal decision-making role on boards and commissions. NOBC represents national nursing and other organizations working to build healthier communities in America by increasing the presence of nurses on corporate, health-related, and other boards, panels, and commissions.”

Benson answered some questions about NOBC.

Why is it important for nurses to be a part of boards? What do they bring to the table that other health care workers don’t?

All boards can benefit from the nursing perspective. Nurses possess a wide range of skills including strategic planning, critical thinking, quality and process improvement, communications, human resources, finance, and complex problem solving.  Accustomed to working in teams, nurses fit naturally into the boardroom environment. Always connected to the mission, they understand the challenges, opportunities, and implications of decisions on many levels.  Other health care workers certainly make important contributions to the boardroom as well. Nurses welcome the opportunity to serve alongside colleagues and other leaders to make a collective impact.

With 3.6 million nurses in our country, nurses represent the largest segment of our health care workforce.  It simply makes good business sense to have the nursing perspective representedin all placeswhere decisions and policies affecting health are made including corporate, governmental, nonprofit, advisory, governance boards, commissions, and panels or task forces that have fiduciary or strategic responsibility. 

Is this just to encourage NPs to be on boards or nurses of any rank and experience level? Why?  

There is a place in the boardroom for nurses across the continuum. While certain boards require specific rank and experience, many seek candidates at a variety of levels of experience and practice, especially with the increased emphasis on bringing diverse perspectives into the boardroom. Boards are most interested in how a candidate will contribute and bring value to discussions in the boardroom. With each board opportunity, NOBC makes sure we understand the profile of the ideal candidate and then match the opportunity with the skills, experience, qualifications, and interests of those registered in the NOBC database as interested in serving.

A few recent examples include a doctoral graduate who was invited to serve on a nonprofit board for an organization that provides respite care for parents and families of children with daily medical needs; another nurse (BSN, RN) with less than 5 years of experience was invited to serve on an advisory board for a national company who was seeking wider generational representation; and a faculty member (DNP, RN, CNE, NEA-BC), who will soon be retiring, was selected to serve on the board of a national health care start up organization focused on care of the aging.  There are unprecedented opportunities for nurses to serve on boards in every community across our nation!

Has this been started more because nurses weren’t seeking board positions, boards weren’t seeking nurses as members, or both? Please explain.  

NOBC wasn’t started for nursing, it was started by nursing. National nursing association leaders came together with one purpose in mind—to work together to improve health for all. However, not all boards are necessarily aware of the growing interest, demand, and impact of nurses serving on boards. NOBC members, partners, sponsors, state contacts, and others are doing a great job in increasing the awareness and visibility of the expansive and exceptional nurse candidate pool that is available to all boards.

What are nurses’ roles on boards? 

Board governance is an extension of leadership.  As leaders, nurses can serve effectively in all types of governance roles based on the structure and specific needs of each board. Nurses serve as Board Chairs, Board Committee Chairs, Committee members or at-large members—wherever the need matches with their skills, interests, and their ability to contribute value. The varied roles for nurses on boards are the same as for others serving on the boards. Boards contribute collectively, not based on the individual board members. Nurses especially thrive when serving on high performance boards, serving as a contributor toward the good of the whole.

Suppose a nurse would like to join a particular board. What should he or she do to pursue it?

Nurses who are interested in serving on a board should start with your passion! Next, conduct a self-assessment and prepare a one-page board biography. Build your skills through nursing leadership resources and talk to other nurse leaders to learn from their experience. Let others know of your interest in serving on a board and contact an organization whose mission aligns with your interests. Register on the NOBC website at www.nursesonboardscoalition.org to be included in the database for consideration for future board opportunities and to access many resources to support you on your board journey.

Be bold! You don’t need to wait until you have all the answers to pursue a board opportunity. Remember, there will be others on the board who have complementary skills and experience to round out the board composition. While you will be providing a valuable contribution through your board service, nurses always tell us they get so much more from the experience than they could ever hope to give.  Create an action plan today to raise your voice in a boardroom that is right for you!

What else is important about the Coalition and its mission that is important for our readers to know?  

We are experiencing great momentum and success! The NOBC current thermometer count is at 5,724 board seats toward our key strategy of 10,000 by 2020. I invite you to join us in this important work.  Please contact me at [email protected] to explore how we can collaborate to make a significant impact, together, where you live and work.

Lastly, if you serve on a board, please consider a nurse as a candidate for your next board seat!

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