December 13, 2023

Nurse trustee advocates for more nursing representation on hospital boards

Editor’s Note

In the December 12 episode of the American Hospital Association (AHA) Advancing Health podcast, Ellen Brzytwa, RN, trustee at the Cleveland Clinic, discussed why more nurses should serve on hospital governing boards.

With a background in psychiatry and behavioral and public health, Brzytwa became the first nurse trustee for a Cleveland-area hospital 45 years ago. Tasked with bringing firsthand insight into hospital work conditions, she says she quickly recognized the value of her unique contribution among the mostly male trustees at that time, none of whom had a healthcare background.

Pointing to a 2022 AHA healthcare governance survey showing 18% of respondents do not have nursing representation on the board, Brzytwa described how she has worked to increase the number of nurses on hospital boards who can provide important guidance on issues such as burnout, recruiting new nurses, and the complexities of patient care. "A lot of us are old and need to exist stage left off these boards at some point," she says. "Looking at adding younger trustees, there's a lot of young nurses that are leaders and would be amazing."


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