My Board Leadership Story

Susan Outen KershawHealth Board Member and South Carolina Future of Nursing Co-LeadI was recently appointed to the board of KershawHealth, a hospital in my hometown of Camden, South Carolina. Although I worked as a nurse at KershawHealth for nearly 30 years, 18 years of which I served as the Chief Nursing Officer, I honestly had never thought about serving on the board. I left the hospital 10 years ago to retire, but realized I missed working so I went back to work at the South Carolina Hospital Association. Recently, I was contacted by a county council member who let me know about an opening on KershawHealth’s board. He asked me if I would be interested in applying, and I thought, “Yes. Yes, I am.”

As the South Carolina Action Coalition co-lead and someone who has been preaching to others about the importance of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations in the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report, I knew I needed to “walk the walk” of encouraging nurses to seek board positions. Just a few weeks ago I heard the good news that I had been appointed to the board. I am thrilled and excited to bring my perspective, passion, and nursing background to this role.

This experience has caused me to reflect more deeply about leadership in the nursing profession.  As nurses, I think we often neglect the fact that we are the most trusted profession in this country. We are often so busy taking care of the next project or plan that we don’t stop to think about how we could impact an entire community through board service. But who could be better to bring the voice of patients and staff to a hospital board than a nurse, and especially a nurse with experience in hospital care? Of course, this is not to say that only hospital nurses should be on boards. Wouldn’t it be great to have a nurse educator on the school board? Or a public health nurse on the state health board? There are so many places that we, as nurses, can make a difference.

Together, let’s make a pledge to seek out more opportunities to serve on boards.


by Susan Outen | September 30, 2013

Tags: leadership, south-carolina

Eileene Shake

This is a great story and Congratulations to Susan Outen! Thank you Susan for stepping up to be a hospital board member and influence decisions that impact patient care.
Posted on: October 1, 2013, 11:21 am

Casey Blumenthal

Retirement? Not yet :-)
Posted on: October 1, 2013, 4:15 pm

Alexia Green, RN, PhD, FAAN

Susan this is wonderful and I'm sure your view as a nurse will positively impact patient care and system efficiency! We need more nurses serving on hospital and corporate boards.
Posted on: October 25, 2013, 8:01 pm

Maria Murt

Susan, thank you for sharing your story. I am in the very early stages of dissertation, and I am interested in nursing engagement on decision-making boards. As a Co-Lead for your state's Action Coalition, do you think more research needs to be focused on the 'why' and 'how' questions (qualitative data) surrounding nurses on boards, or focused on quantitative data?
Posted on: November 6, 2013, 11:56 am

Annie Gu

Hi Susan. I think it is wonderful how you have been appointed a position on the KershawHealth’s board! Leadership is a key skill for all nurses and I am positive that with members on the board with diverse work experiences like you the nursing community will continue to advance health and lead change. The ANA Leadership Institute has recently launched programs to increase our leadership impact and boost our nursing professions by building conflict management skills and provide an ability to lead through change, which is something that more individuals should consider joining. It is essential to grow our leadership skills so that we can set more competent examples in healthcare. I’m very happy to hear that we will now have someone who can bring the aspect of nursing care at our hospitals to the regulation of nursing practice. Practice standards and policies, administrative rules and regulations should be formulated based on an assortment of experiences in the profession. In addition, unsafe nursing practice should be regulated with various perspectives in mind. Congratulations to you and good luck!
Posted on: April 7, 2014, 5:46 pm


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