More than 4 million registered nurses work in the U.S., more than any other kind of health professional.
But even with their diverse backgrounds, unique experiences and heavy responsibilities, nurses can face barriers to rising to the highest ranks of their organizations, healthcare leaders say.
Three hospital executives—Carilion Clinic President and CEO Nancy Howell Agee, WellSpan Health President and CEO Roxanna Gapstur, and Sammie Mosier, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at HCA Healthcare—agreed that advancing nurses’ careers requires a multifaceted approach. Board members and executives need to ensure opportunities for nurses exist, and nurses need to be willing to take chances, they said.
The leaders credited colleagues for helping them gain exposure both in and out of the clinical setting early in their careers.
“I had a physician executive who became a mentor to me over about four years and really taught me a lot, encouraged me, needled me, frustrated me and paved the way,” Agee said. “He put me in positions to meet people and to have new opportunities. He was a tremendous resource.”