Katherine McFaun Williams, BSN, ACM-RN
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), Lebanon, NH
DHMC Board of Governors
Chair/President, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nursing Practice Governance
Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?
I contemplated running for President of our Shared Governance structure to improve engagement, morale, and wellness. I was encouraged to do so by my CNO, manager, and other nursing directors, even though I had not chaired a council in our governance structure. I had read an article about stepping outside of your comfort zone and decided to simply go for it.
The role automatically seats you at the table with the hospital’s Board of Governors (BoG). I know that my name badge must have been fluttering off my chest at my first BoG meeting, but DHMC nursing and medical leadership are incredibly supportive. As an AMC, DHMC not only fosters clinical education, but takes risks with leadership opportunities and professional growth. I survived, and would argue that I’m thriving in this.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
By simply being brave and engaging in more public speaking. Even while shaking, I learned that I could stand up in front of a big room, share our work, and the sky did not fall!
What are resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader and eventually obtaining a board?
Join your professional national, state or clinical specialty organization. I am an ANA, ANA-VT and ACMA member. Attend state, regional and national conferences. Network. Participate in you’re the nursing shared governance structure or Nursing Practice group at your workplace.
Join focus groups, task forces, or quality improvement projects — find a group that shares your passion and participate. For example: how to improve handoffs between units, hand hygiene, or one of the many CMS mandates like CAUTI or pressure injuries. If your organization offers Lean Six Sigma training, ask your manager for the time to attend one.
What impact have you had serving on a board?
As the only elected clinical nurse at the table, I vote from the nurse’s perspective. For example, I have voted upon resolutions regarding our hospital’s response to the substance and opioid use disorders having devastating effects in the state of New Hampshire. I voice concerns around nursing practice, and am I am the only RN on the Board-appointed subcommittee on Employee and Provider Burnout and Engagement.
One of my impacts is to simply shine a light on the challenges nurses face, and develop solutions together.
What advice would you give someone going into a board leadership position for the first time?
Jump! Literally, get on board. Your voice makes a difference. Your opinion, thoughts and input improve the practice of nursing and will save patient’s lives. It really is that simple, and meaningful. Go for it.
This article is part of our ongoing partnership with the Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC), formed to improve the nation’s health through the service of nurses on boards, commissions, and other decision-making entities. NOBC wants to see nurses occupy at least 10,000 board seats in 2020. Scrubs Magazine is committed to helping NOBC reach this goal by informing, educating, and inspiring nurses and nursing students to take on leadership roles at all levels. Find out more at NursesOnBoardsCoalition.org.