Tracey Smith October 23, 2018
Place of Employment: Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Which Nursing Organizations are you currently a member of:
Board(s) currently serving on: Carlinville School Board, Carlinville Hospital Board, Helping Hands Board, Mercy Communities Board
Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?
I have a background in engineering therefore I like to look at how systems work. The more I worked with multiple systems and agencies I saw the lack of insight and diversity on boards. Because of this I started to present to boards on topics I thought would be of interest to them and allow for growth in their board members. After making those connections I was invited to join the boards when an opening came up.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I attend national conferences on leadership. I also journal weekly and take time out to reflect on my leadership skills and lack of. My DNP education allowed me to observe and learn from may leaders (I made this a priority of my clinical hours). I constantly read, observe, and just listen to other leaders.
What impact have you had serving on a board? Example?
I believe the impact I have had is to lead culture change. Most people do not recognize the overarching aspects of systems in general and like to function in a silo. I feel I have been able to bring to light the overarching aspects. Having been trained in SDOH, research, empathy in my nursing training- I can bring all of those skills to the table. For instance, I have been able to advocate for trauma informed care training for the school board members.
What advice would you give someone going into a board leadership position for the first time?
Don’t be afraid and believe that you have something to add. I know in the beginning I thought “what can I offer to this board- I don’t have anything special” but everyone has something to offer.
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?
There are magazines that usually each board (Hosp and School) can get you on the mailing list for that provides support and guidance for board members. I would also recommend reaching out to current board members and asking them for information. The have on reflection book I love- Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People. The reflections in there are crucial to become the best you can. I would also recommend reading something on implicit bias so that you are aware of implicit biases you may have and be aware of a situation that may cause those implicit biases to affect your judgment then work to make sure they don’t.
Why do you feel it is important for nurses to serve on boards?
Nurses are generally very caring individuals and that is really what is key for a good board member. Also, nurses have seen and been with people when they are at their most vulnerable state. The insight gained from those moments is vital.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to nurses serving on boards?
I quickly think of 4 major barriers: Time. For example, my school board takes 3-6 hours/ month away from my family- I have to leave work for 4 hours/ month for hospital board. I am lucky to work somewhere that allows me to use my work time for my hospital board time, but many don’t have that luxury. The other boards I am on account for at least 6 hours/ month, so time is a major factor. Money can also be a barrier. Many boards want you to donate/support fundraisers etc. so I speak with them up front to let them know I am not rich monetarily, but I am knowledgeable and dedicated but often I feel bad because I cannot donate like others do. Intimidation: Often business owners can be intimidating in nature but again we are smart, and we need to stand up Male vs Female board members: being a female is interesting on an all-male board (the hospital board) was like this.Boards: Carlinville School Board, Carlinville Hospital Board, Helping Hands Board, Mercy Communities BoardContinue 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