NOBC Nurse Profile: Pamela Guthman

Pamela Guthman DNP, RN-BC

Wisconsin Center for Nursing, Forward Community Investment

Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?

I was nominated for a secretary position several years ago for the Wisconsin Public Health Association, and from there other opportunities have presented.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I try to stay current with the changing landscape in community, public, and population health nursing, especially as related to rural communities, poverty, and the social economic determinants of health. My focus is on primordial, primary, and secondary prevention initiatives intertwined with collaborative collective impact.

What impact have you had serving on a board? 

I provide a preventive, broad health perspective to address issues as related to the lack of living wages, unaffordable and unhealthy housing, and inequitable access to education, opportunities, and health care. This has influenced some alternative strategies related to funding priorities for some of the boards. I have also brought the reality of what rural, aging populations are experiencing in regard to the determinants of health.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to nurses serving on boards?

Lack of knowledge/skills in this area, lack of adequate salaries and reimbursement to support travel and board level engagement by very busy and overwhelmed nurses, and lack of awareness of the substantial education, knowledge, and skills professional nurses have.

Why do you feel it is important for nurses to serve on boards?

There have been too few nurses at the table to discuss health care and health care needs, especially in regard to understanding the difference between the focus of nurses and medicine. Our patients’ health care interests are being represented in tertiary (treatment) care vs. prevention and health promotion. As licensed nurses, we have failed our clients/patients because we are not fulfilling our professional legal responsibilities as leaders advocating for the needs of vulnerable populations.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to nurses serving on boards?

Lack of knowledge/skills in this area, lack of adequate salaries and reimbursement to support travel and board level engagement by very busy and overwhelmed nurses, and lack of awareness of the substantial education, knowledge, and skills professional nurses have.

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.

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