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!

Certified Nurses Day Is Today

Certified Nurses Day Is Today

When you’re thinking of career development and professional advancement in a nursing career, becoming a certified nurse sets you apart.

With today marking 2019’s Certified Nurses Day, certified nurses in every specialty can appreciate and understand the benefits gained from certification. From critical care to various women’s health to oncology, certification is available is a wide range of specialties.

Nurses become certified when they continue their nursing education with additional studies that culminate with passing a certification exam. Many nurses will try for certification when they have worked in a specialty or sub specialty and have a desire to learn more. They may also choose to become certified if they want to advance in their careers, gain more professional standing, or to better serve the patients and families they work with every day.

Although the exam might be a little easier if you already work in the specialty and understand the complexities of the standards and procedures, many nurses also choose to become certified in areas where they work only occasionally. Nurses may obtain as many certifications as they want, but choosing carefully to help enhance your job performance, your patient base, and your desire to know more about a certain topic will reap the biggest gains.

One of the biggest issues nurses might find with certification is the exam itself. But, as many certified nurses will say, your basic knowledge and extra studying on the most current updates will likely be enough to help you pass. If you are going for a certification that is just outside your normal area of expertise, you’ll need to put in more effort and extra hours studying, but the end result will be worth it. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of this particular nursing practice, and you’ll also elevate your professional standing. In addition, certified nurses show they care about their jobs and their careers enough to become better nurses with this extra effort.

As nurses progress through their careers, gaining certification reaffirms the reasons why they entered the profession. Nurses, even those who have been in practice for decades, know there is always something else to learn. As technology and medical advances continue at a rapid rate, certification helps provide that national standard of nursing care and expectations of practice.

If you’re interested in obtaining certification, begin looking at the American Nurses Credentialing Center for more information about how to prepare, how to get started, and what to expect. If you are already certified in a specialty (or more than one!) congratulations on joining an expert army of nurses who have gone beyond requirements to become the best possible nurses.

Enjoy Certified Nurses Day!

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Offer Range of Care

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Offer Range of Care

This year the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners is holding an annual conference during this week’s National Nurse Practitioners Week. It’s a good time to examine where this segment of nursing is going and how far it has come over the years.

A career in pediatric nursing is always changing. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, you’ll treat ages from newborns up to late teens and early adults. Their care needs are varied and extensive because everything from their size to their cognitive capabilities to their emotional needs are vast.

Treatments for aggressive childhood diseases like cancer have advanced greatly. As more children are surviving and thriving longer, pediatric nurse practitioners (PNP) are seeing how children manage any lingering emotional and physical impacts of their conditions. But PNPs also care for children who are well to keep them healthy and free from preventable disease and injury.

PNPs need to remain current on all the medical needs of children in their care, while also being aware of their emotional development. These advanced practice nurses are able to diagnose everything from an ear infection to more serious diseases and illnesses. They are able to prescribe treatment plans that include medications, follow ups, and additional therapies.

And PNPs do not just care for the child as they often are advising parents, guardians, and caregivers of these children. They offer care, give guidance, and advocate for the child in all situations.

Celebrating pediatric nurse practitioners helps acknowledge the variations in this area of nursing while also giving thanks for the care they give to the future. Children who are able to grow up with good health have advantages. Imparting the importance of good nutrition, exercise, sleep, immunizations, good mental health care, and safety issues helps a child grow up on a good track for growth and development. Through well-child visits, PNPs can perform developmental screenings, learn about any areas of concern, and provide education and guidance if additional health tests are needed.

Caring for young patients is different than caring for adults and the physical and emotional issues they face. Because of that discrepancy, some PNPs also perform research to advance the knowledge and know-how to help children.

However they choose to contribute their skills to the care of children and young adults, pediatric nurse practitioners are admired.

7 Tips for Nurses with Disabilities Going Back to Work

7 Tips for Nurses with Disabilities Going Back to Work

Going back to work after a disability can be tough for anyone, and especially for nurses whose jobs are incredibly demanding. Returning to work can seem like an insurmountable obstacle on bad days, but don’t think about hanging up your stethoscope quite yet. There are plenty of legal and social resources for you to fall back on if you’re a nurse with a disability. Read on to  discover seven strategies for nurses with disabilities who wish to return to work.

1. Know the Americans with Disabilities Act well.

Passed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in a variety of settings, including jobs, schools, and transportation. (Additional amendments went into effect in 2009.) Many different conditions may qualify as a disability if they significantly impair your ability to engage in one or more major life activities. Categories of disabilities include neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, circulatory, lymphatic, skin, endocrine and more. In the U.S., the ADA is the single most important law for dictating how employers can treat employees during and after the hiring process, so study up on the ADA and get intimately familiar with what it means for you.

2. Learn your employer’s benefits package.

Beyond the ADA, your employer might also have certain benefits or protections that are relevant to employees with disabilities. For starters, see if your employer offers any short-term or long-term disability insurance. Your employer might also provide Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or stay-or-work or return-to-work policies in the context of employees with disabilities. If you have questions about what your employer does and does not provide, the HR department should be able to answer your questions. If you need accommodations in the workplace as a result of your disability, such as the use of a wheelchair, you’ll also need to discuss that with HR (they have a responsibility to work with you on accommodations under the ADA).

3. Seek out other nurses with disabilities.

No one will be able to understand your challenges quite like another nurse with disabilities. Even if they have a different disability from you, they’ll still be able to empathize about issues such as working with an employer to get necessary accommodations or understanding the ins and outs of the ADA. Ideally, you’ll be able to find an experienced nurse or two who can serve as a mentor and help guide you through the transition of returning to work with a disability. Even if the nurses aren’t experienced enough to serve as your mentors, you will still benefit greatly from building connections with others who know what you’re going through.

4. Build a support network for yourself.

Your connections shouldn’t stop with other nurses with disabilities. Other nurses, especially your immediate coworkers, can be a huge help as you transition back to your job. Of course, this depends on how supportive your company culture is, but your coworkers might be able to help you brainstorm small changes that you all can make together to make your return to work more seamless. (And if you need any accommodations or other changes, you’ll need to discuss them with your supervisor for sure.) If you have a spouse, partner or roommate, they can also help you with non-work tasks—like cooking and cleaning—to make your return to work less stressful as well.

5. Keep your license and certifications up to date.

State boards vary in terms of what certifications they require from disabled nurses, so look up your state’s guidelines and make sure that you’re in compliance with them. Wherever you leave and whatever the state requirements are, make sure that you renew your nursing license while you’re on active duty and that you keep up with any and all continuing education requirements. Keep in mind that sometimes additional training or refresher workshops may be necessary before you can renew your nursing license. Keeping your license current is important because you don’t want anything to jeopardize your standing with your employer and everything that goes with it (insurance, paycheck, etc.).

6. Get involved in professional organizations.

There are many professional organizations available for nurses, including the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND), which works to promote equality for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions in nursing through education and advocacy. Beyond NOND, there are plenty of other associations for just about every nursing specialty and issue available, so there’s bound to be something that connects with your interests. Participating in these organizations will help you build your network and advocate for nurses with disabilities within the profession. This network will be critical if you decide that you need to make a career change because of your disability (see the next tip).

7. Explore new specialties to find your niche.

No matter how accommodating your employer is, after returning to work with a disability, you might decide that it’s in your best interest to make a career change. If that describes your situation, start exploring other options. Perhaps you can find a job where you don’t have to be on your feet as much, or you can transition to a lower-stress unit that won’t cause your symptoms to flare as often. Reach out to your fellow nurses, especially those who also have disabilities, and ask them about the pros and cons of their positions and how accommodating their employers are. If you don’t feel like you have the right experience to make the career change you want, you can also consider going back to school for additional certifications or even an advanced degree to help you make the leap.

Putting on your scrubs and returning to nursing work after a disability can be daunting, but thankfully there are resources available for nurses in this exact situation. Do as much research as you can about the ADA and your employer’s policies, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it. Plenty of nurses with disabilities do meaningful work and take care of their patients very successfully, and even if you need accommodations, we know you can do the same.

8 Tips for Adapting to Different Work Cultures

8 Tips for Adapting to Different Work Cultures

Workplace culture can be a hard-to-define concept, but it nevertheless affects every minute of your working life. Culture encompasses elements such as business values, management styles, physical environment, and even dress codes. Each hospital has its own unique culture that you’ll have to adapt to whenever you start a new job. Here are eight tips to help nurses acclimate to a new workplace culture:

adapting to different work cultures1. Pay attention during orientation.

At the start of each new job, you’ll probably have to attend some kind of orientation or training for new hires before you can grab your nursing bag and start seeing patients. Even if there’s not a presentation that explicitly describes the culture and values of your new employer, you should have a good grasp of what is expected by the end of orientation. While culture has many layers that go far beneath the surface—each nursing unit has its own individual way of doing things, for example—wrapping your mind around the facility’s overall culture will give you a good framework for figuring out what does and doesn’t trickle down into your unit.

2. Observe how others behave.

Especially during your first days on the job, keep a sharp eye out for your coworkers’ behavior and watch how they interact with each other and supervisors. Do they engage in small talk as they walk together, or is everyone all business, all the time? Are they warm and friendly with the nursing unit manager, or do they hang back and treat them with deference? While some of this will depend on the personalities of your individual coworkers, observing this behavior will give you examples to fall back on as you start to build relationships at your new workplace.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

However, sometimes you won’t be able to glean everything you need to know from observation alone. Maybe your coworkers act totally different with two different supervisors, or one person in your unit hardly talks to anyone else unless necessary for unknown reasons. When it feels natural, you can ask your coworkers for more details in a non-nosy way. This also goes for procedures and other non-people related matters. If the unit does things differently than you’re used to, don’t hesitate to clarify what the preferred process is. Better that you ask for clarification ahead of time than try to puzzle your way through and mess things up.

4. Try to withhold judgment and assumptions.

Every workplace, including hospitals and other facilities, have their quirks. Especially if you’ve worked in several other facilities before, these idiosyncrasies might seem annoying and downright strange—but there’s often a reason for them. Instead of dismissing these quirks outright or grumbling about them, try to withhold judgment at the beginning and seek out underlying reasons. Maybe that unsociable coworker is dealing with a sick parent or child, or the “high strung” supervisor is under a lot of pressure from higher-ups. Even the most off-the-wall behavior often has an explanation if you look deeply enough.

5. Don’t constantly compare things to your old job.

Speaking of comparing your new job to your old one, don’t do it–at least not out loud. It’s super annoying to have a coworker who won’t shut up about how great their old employer was and how they did everything much better than their new facility. This behavior is not just bad for unit morale, it also won’t do you any favors as you try to build relationships with your new nursing coworkers. Just like your mom used to tell you when you were a kid: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it all.

6. Be judicious with vertical relationships.

Whether you’re a supervisor or a director report, vertical relationships can make or break your work experience. If you’re a supervisor, the performance of your team depends on your nurses. On the flip side, your supervisor holds great influence over your career as a nurse. Whatever position you will be in, try to figure out supervisor-direct report expectations early on in your new job. In an ideal world, your new employer will encourage close, supportive relationships between supervisors and nurses, but this isn’t always the case. The earlier you figure out the lay of the land, the sooner you’ll be able to start mapping out a plan for your career and your team.

7. Acknowledge your mistakes.

No matter how careful you are, you’re bound to make some slip-ups at any new job. When you do make a mistake, own up to it rather than trying to hide it and ask for pointers on how to do things better next time. See each mistake as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow as both a nurse and an employee. Apologize if necessary, and try to find humor in the situation when appropriate. Your coworkers will appreciate that you don’t take yourself too seriously. There’s no use crying over spilled milk or stained scrubs, so if the mistake is small in the scheme of things, try not to dwell on it and focus on moving forward.

8. Educate rather than accuse.

Sometimes, you’ll be on the receiving end of a mistake rather than the instigator. Maybe a new coworker calls you by the wrong name, or makes assumptions about you based on your appearance. While this isn’t okay, try not to assume the worst and jump to conclusions about ulterior motives. If you can, gently but firmly correct the other person while offering them an out like so: “I know names can be tough to remember sometimes, but just so you know my name is actually _____.” You won’t earn any points for being combative from the start, so do your best to be gracious and understanding when you start a new job, even if you want to be anything but.

Starting a new job can feel like entering a black box, but if you keep your ears and eyes open, you’ll quickly pick up on expectations and values. Follow these eight tips to help you adjust to a new work culture as you ease into your new nursing position.