Most people are familiar with a board of trustees. These are the leaders who advise, guide, direct, and lead businesses large and small while keeping the organizations’ best professional, financial, and strategic goals in mind. Members of a board of trustees are a diverse group with broad expertise; these varied backgrounds allow the group to look at problems or issues through several different lenses.

As a professional nurse, having your own board of trustees is one way to help your personal and professional growth flourish. Your board doesn’t need to sit around in a conference room (or, today, on Zoom), your own group can be informal, and they can actually be a mutually supportive group who has each member’s best interests in mind.

Who will you invite into your board of trustees? Here are a few things to consider.

Those You Admire and Respect

Nurses who hold leadership roles and who perform their work duties in a way you want to emulate are excellent people to have in your corner. Asking for their advice and guidance or just watching how they approach their responsibilities is going to help your career.

Those Who Don’t Know the Industry

Your board of trustees shouldn’t include only those in the medical industry. Professionals in other industries—from banking to teaching to construction—are going to help you. They can offer perspectives of patient personalities and what might be percolating for the general public. They may offer insight into business practices that could help your own work flow be more efficient or could boost the morale of your unit. They can also give you tips on salary negotiation or interviewing.

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Those Who Help with Nitty Gritty

Your alma mater can help you with a career search or with a resume review. The neighbor or cousin who can watch your kids while you finish up a grant proposal is worth more than gold. Your colleague who motivates you to exercise or take a break when you‘ve hit a wall is going to watch out for you. These people belong on your board and you belong on theirs. These are all great opportunities for reciprocal relationships—you can help them as much as they help you.

Those You Network With

Colleagues who are active in nursing associations can help you network to find a new professional opportunity. These are the people who can help you pinpoint excellent presentation topics or give you insider information on how to navigate a particular conference. They can guide you to elevate your visibility in the industry.

Those Who Know You Best

An opportunity might look so-so on paper, but your best friend might be the one to point out how it matches your passions and gives you a launching pad. Or a job offer might be weighed by your sister who asks if you’ll be able to move the 1,000 miles required to make it happen and then cheers you on when you figure out how to do exactly that. This is the crew who will tell it like it is and who always have your back.

Having a board of trustees—or really a board of trust—in your corner is a way to ensure you aren’t going it alone. People are often willing to help. It’s important to offer something in return and to understand you also bring value to the relationship.

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If you’re hoping to ask for advice about a career switch from a nurse who is in that specialty, make an offer to take them out to lunch. If someone is watching your kids, offer to watch theirs or to pick up some groceries the next time you go to the store. There are many ways we can all support each other. Start building a circle of trusted people and see the impact it has on your well-being and your career.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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