Wanted: More nurses in the C-suite

The three are among 14 executives with nursing backgrounds named to Modern Healthcare’s 2022 list of the 50 Most Influential Clinical Executives.

While some nurses move up through the ranks, obstacles remain for others. Nurses commonly lament they don’t command the same respect as medical doctors.

“We’re going to have to challenge C-suite leaders,” said Loressa Cole, CEO of ANA Enterprise, a coalition that includes the American Nurses Association, the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Nurses Foundation. “We have to step forward and take accountability and responsibility to move this agenda forward.”

Sexism remains an impediment for women across industries, and according to census data, 9 in 10 nurses are women. Of the 41 health-sector companies on the 2022 Fortune 500 list, five had female CEOs.

Women executives, like other women, generally aren’t paid as well as men in the same jobs. Women in C-suites at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies earned 75% of what their male counterparts made in 2020, according to a Morningstar report.

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Despite hurdles, Agee, Gapstur and Mosier said parents, grandparents and sponsors inspired them to strive for executive positions. Similarly, Mosier said it’s vital to instill the idea in nurses early in their career that their voices matter.

A drive to better serve patients propelled Agee to eye the C-suite. “My own experience, looking back, was acting out of a sense of frustration, believing I needed to get more done for patients than I was able,” she said.

Agee recalled a chemotherapy patient who was hungry after the cafeteria had closed. It prompted her to draft recommendations for enhancing the patient experience at her hospital. Her bosses encouraged her to implement the changes herself. “That was the beginning,” Agee said.



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