The short answer to this question is yes; nurses can serve on boards. The longer answer involves explaining the rationale as to why nurses should serve on boards.

Nurses demonstrate a high level of leadership. Registered nurses, especially, have a great deal of autonomy and therefore must act as leaders when caring for patients. They are on the front lines of health care and can bring a unique perspective to boards to influence decision-making within many arenas: their department/unit, facility, region, community, and even with law-making.

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Nurses can even act as a consultant on a board. Having non-clinical members only on a board which affects workflow and decision-making in patient care areas can lead to unrealistic expectations and even patient safety issues. Without front-line staff buy-in, change is pretty much doomed. Morale and productivity can also decrease. Nurses can work to influence decision-making to ensure safe patient care while at the same time, increasing efficiency and decreasing cost.

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The best way to affect change is to be a change agent. Serving on a board not only helps nurses sharpen their leadership skills and network professionally, but it helps them improve the quality of care for patients and communities as well.

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