The Nurses On Boards Coalition (NOBC) is deeply grateful and proud of nurses all across the country for their dedication, service and sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic. We honor all nurses, medical professionals, staff and volunteers serving on the frontlines and those supporting them behind the scenes in their local communities. NOBC is committed and available to support our members, partners, nurses and community members. Please contact us at email@example.com if we can help you in any way. Especially now, we thank you for your interest, support and engagement in support of our mission. We hope you and those you hold close are protected, safe and healthy in the coming days.
Katherine McFaun Williams- BSN, RN, ACM
Credentials: BSN, RN, ACM
Place of Employment: Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH
Which Nursing Organizations are you currently a member of: American Nurses Association, ANA – Vermont, American Care Management Associaiton
Board(s) currently serving on: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Board of Governors, President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nursing Practice Governance
Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?
I contemplated running for president of nursing’s shared governance structure at Dartmouth-Hitchcock to focus on the nurse. Namely, to improve engagement, morale and wellness. I was encouraged to do so by my chief nursing officer, manager and other nursing directors, even though I had not previously chaired a council in our governance structure. I had just read an article in The American Nurse Today about stepping outside of your comfort zone and decided to go for it. The president of our shared governance structure becomes a member of the organization’s Board of Governors. I know that my name badge must have been fluttering off my chest at my first board meeting, but nursing and medical leadership are incredibly supportive. As an academic medical center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock fosters clinical education and supports leadership opportunities and professional growth. I survived and would argue that I’m thriving in this role.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I continue to grow and develop as a leader by simply being brave. This includes participating in public speaking opportunities! I present our nursing practice governance model and its value to nursing and patient care, to local member hospitals and other departments and groups. I have also presented multidisciplinary group work at strategic planning retreats. Even while shaking, I have learned that I can stand up in front of a big room, present our work and the sky will not fall! I maintain national certification as an accredited case manager and attend national conferences with American Nurses Association and American Care Management Association.
What impact have you had serving on a board? Example?
As the only elected clinical nurse on the board, I share nursing’s voice and vote from the nurse’s perspective. For example, I have voted on resolutions about our organization’s response to the national opioid crisis that has had devastating effects in the state of New Hampshire. I voice concerns about nursing practice. I am the only RN on the board-appointed subcommittee about employee and provider burnout and engagement. This high-profile subcommittee is developing plans and action steps to address those important and timely issues. One of the contributions I have made while serving on these boards and subcommittees is to simply ‘shine a light on” and educate other board members about the challenges nurses face in their practice and this gives us an opportunity to develop solutions, together.
What advice would you give someone going into a board leadership position for the first time?
Jump! Literally, Get on Board. Your voice makes a difference. Your opinion, thoughts and ideas improve nursing practice and will save patient’s lives. It really is that simple and meaningful. Go for it!
What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader and eventually obtaining a board position?
Join your professional national, state or clinical specialty organization. I am a member of the ANA, ANA-VT and ACMA. Attend state, regional and national conferences. Network. Participate in your organization’s nursing shared governance structure or nursing practice group. Join focus groups, task forces or quality improvement projects. Find a group that shares your passion and participate. Consider process improvement projects like handoffs between units or hand hygiene, or quality improvement projects like reducing CAUTIs or pressure injuries. If your health care organization offers lean six sigma training, ask your manager for the time to attend.
Why do you feel it is important for nurses to serve on boards?
It is important for clinical nurses to serve on boards because we can share front line and point-of-care knowledge about the nurse and patient’s health care experience. Our ideas and input is imperative if the goal is to provide the best care for our patients, our employees and our communities.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to nurses serving on boards?
Time. The national nursing shortage affects how nurses care for patients, take breaks, care for themselves, pursue advanced education and maintain competency. Bold and innovative ideas are needed to prioritize TIME for the nurse. Nurses need time to participate in improving the electronic medical record, addressing flexible schedules, ongoing education, self-care, personal/family-work life balance and professional growth. Where will we find the time?
Katherine McFaun Williams BSN, RN, ACM April 2, 2019Boards: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Board of Governors, President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nursing Practice GovernanceContinue Reading
“Board service can be rewarding to nurses both personally and professionally. It not only requires them to exercise leadership; it expands those skills and advances their capabilities and knowledge. It gives nurses the chance to meet people and enhance their professional networks. And it can be inspirational and empowering.”
-Sue Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation