Pamela Guthman

Pamela Guthman

Credentials: DNP, RN-BC

Place of Employment: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Which Nursing Organizations are you currently a member of: Wisconsin Center for Nursing, ANA, WNA, WPHA, APHA, STT

Board(s) currently serving on: Wisconsin Center for Nursing, Forward Community Investment


Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?

I was nominated for a secretary position several years ago for the Wisconsin Public Health Association, and from there other opportunities have presented.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I try to stay current with the changing landscape in community/public/population health nursing especially as related to rural communities, poverty, and the social economic determinants of health with a focus on primordial, primary, and secondary prevention initiatives intertwined with collaborative collective impact.

What impact have you had serving on a board? Example?

I provide a preventive, broad public/community/population health perspective of which I address issues as related to the lack of living wages, lack of social connections, unaffordable and unhealthy housing, inequitable access to education, opportunities, and access to health care. This has influenced some alternative strategies related to funding priorities for some of the boards. I have also brought the reality of what rural, aging populations are experiencing regarding the determinants of health as well as lack of resources, including the lack of a culturally, highly skilled nursing workforce.

What advice would you give someone going into a board leadership position for the first time?

I would say to encourage them to introduce themselves to the leadership (president/executive director), let them know your interests and/or your skills/knowledge you are willing to share. I would also suggest that you spend the first few meetings observing and listening to fully understand the issues/challenges.

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?

Wisconsin Center for Nursing has a board training they offered, there is CD as well. I would encourage participation in non-profit board leadership/competency courses. I would also encourage attending a variety of board meetings to understand varying types of leadership styles and how boards may function similarly and/or differently.

Why do you feel it is important for nurses to serve on boards?

There are too few nurses at the table to discuss health care and health care needs, especially regarding understanding the difference between the focus of nurses and medicine. Therefore, our patient’s health care interests are being represented in tertiary (treatment) care vs. concentrating on prevention and health promotion. We have failed our clients/patients because we are not fulfilling our professional legal responsibilities as licensed nurses when we are not in leadership levels advocating for vulnerable populations’ needs.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to nurses serving on boards?

Lack of knowledge/skills in this area, lack of adequate salaries and reimbursement to support travel and board level engagement by very busy and overwhelmed nurses, and lack of awareness of the substantial education, knowledge, and skills professional nurses have.


Pamela Guthman DNP, RN-BC July 6, 2017

Boards: Wisconsin Center for Nursing, Forward Community Investment
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