Tracey Smith, DNP, PHCNS-BC, MS
Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Carlinville School Board, Carlinville Hospital Board, Helping Hands Board, Mercy Communities Board
Why do you feel it is important for nurses to serve on boards?
Nurses are generally very caring individuals, and that quality is key for a good board member. Also, nurses have seen and been with people in their most vulnerable state, and the insight gained from those moments is vital.
Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?
I have a background in engineering, so I like to look at how systems work. The more I worked with multiple systems and agencies, the more noticed a lack of insight and diversity on boards. Because of this, I started to present to boards on topics I thought would be of interest to them and allow for growth in their board members. After making those connections, I was invited to join the boards when an opening came up.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I attend national conferences on leadership. I also journal weekly and take time out to reflect on my leadership skills, and where I may be lacking. My DNP education allowed me to observe and learn from many leaders; I made this a priority during my clinical hours. I constantly read, observe, and just listen to other leaders
What impact have you had serving on a board? Example?
I believe I have led culture change. Most people like to work in silos, and do not recognize the overarching aspects of systems in general. I have been able to shed light on these aspects. As a nurse, I have also been trained on empathy and social determinants of health, and can bring those skills to the table. For example, I have been able to advocate for trauma-informed care training for the school board members.
What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader and eventually obtaining a board position?
There are magazines that provides support and guidance for board members. I would also recommend reaching out to current board members and asking them for information. I would recommend the book “Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. The reflections in it have helped me in many crucial ways.
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.