The HCA North Texas-owned Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth has made the rare move to vote a nurse onto its board of directors.
Lynn O’Neill, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, is the newest member of the 14-person board. She has more than 30 years of experience in nursing, but joined Plaza as the nursing chief in August 2014. For nine years prior to that, O’Neill was the chief nursing officer in sister hospital Medical Center of Lewisville. She began her career in Chicago at Corner Children’s Hospital, at which she ascended from a rank and file nurse to executive director.
“Nurses understand the day-to-day workings of a hospital better than any other profession,” read a prepared statement from Dr. Nasim Akhtar, chairman of the PlazaMedical Center board of directors. “Nurses truly run the front lines of hospitals, so we as a board want to give nursing leadership a greater voice at Plaza. We look forward to the experience and expertise that Lynn O’Neill will add as a voting member of our hospital board.”
Despite being an integral part of the care delivery process, nurses are rarely voted onto hospital boards. According to data from the American Hospital Association, just 6 percent of board members are nurses in the country’s care facilities. In Texas, a major initiative at hospitals in eight regions has helped prepare 400 nurses to serve on boards throughout the state. In 2014, a report by the Institute of Medicine indicted the industry, saying that nurses, who are the most populous of all healthcare employees, do not have adequate representation in the boardroom.