Gender, training may hold nurses back from the C-suite

Numbers of RNs at the C-level hard to determine

Nurse leaders are increasingly common in hospitals, but still a relative novelty at the CEO's desk, and this rarity may tie into both nurse training and the proportion of the field who are women, according to Newsworks.

The registered nursing field is overwhelmingly female, presenting many of the same social obstacles to advancement as other professions, according to Kelly Doyle, CEO of Rothman Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in the suburbs of Philadelphia. "Women have to take a time out and raise their families," Doyle told Newsworks. "If I had babies in my 30s, would I be sitting here? I don't know." On a more daily basis, management positions require long hours that are hard to reconcile with having a family, she added.

Moreover, nurse training encompasses skills such as quality care and patient safety, while running a hospital requires understanding of management principles and finance as well; indeed, the finance sector increasingly serves as a major recruitment pool for healthcare CEOs, FierceHealthcare previously reported. As it stands, nurse training devotes so much time to clinical skills there's little room for training in management or finance, and many nursing schools only offer a few leadership courses, Christine Kovner, a professor at New York University's college of nursing, told the publication. Nurses who do rise to the C-suite tend to have returned to school for business or administration degrees first.

Complicating matters, it's difficult to even get accurate numbers on how many healthcare leaders come from a nursing background, according to the article. Many have let their nursing licenses lapse as they devote their time to the C-suite, while others simply leave "R.N." off their resumes and business cards for fear it will mark them as less experienced in business.

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