It’s no secret that nurses provide an invaluable service by taking care of patients during hospital stays. What people don’t realize is that nurses can offer even greater value by sharing their knowledge and experience to address many aspects of healthcare needs.
That’s now changing thanks to a group of national nursing organizations called the Nurses on Boards Coalition. The coalition has instituted a movement to bring nurses’ valuable perspective to governing boards and national and state commissions with an interest in health, and is looking to place 10,000 nurses on corporate non-profit health related boards of directors by 2020.
The coalition was created in response to a report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing. This report has brought to the forefront the need to recognize the value nurses can bring should they be given a seat at the decision making table including:
Economic Value – Nurses can provide valuable insight into staffing levels that can lower readmissions, and therefore costs, for hospitals. In a 2013 study, McHugh and Ma found that the odds of hospital readmission in California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania for heart failure, pneumonia and myocardial infarction patients increased by 6% – 9% for each additional patient per nurse in an average nurse workload.
Social Value – The IOM report found that nurses play key roles as team members and leaders for a reformed and better-integrated patient-centered healthcare system. One of its conclusions was that nurses should be full partners with physicians and other healthcare professionals in redesigning healthcare in the United States.
“Without a nurse trustee, boards lack an authority on the patient experience, quality and safety, and the largest part of the hospital workforce” Trustee Magazine, a publication of the American Hospital Association, has written.
Working on the front lines of patient care gives nurses the knowledge and perspective needed to play a vital role in increasing patient safety while decreasing healthcare costs. The coalition hopes to bring to fruition the recommendations of the report for nurses to receive advanced education and training, and practice to the full extent of that education and training.
It is hoped that with the voices of nurses being heard, hospitals will be able to implement changes to increase patient safety and decrease healthcare costs while guiding health system change.