A 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine identified nursing as a key element in healthcare reform efforts. As a result, state and national coalitions formed to increase the number of nurses serving on boards. Despite these efforts, nurses remain underrepresented on all types of boards, including decision-making boards at a local and state level. This descriptive study involved the analysis of 53 state-level boards in Ohio. Using a master list of boards compiled by the Ohio Nurses on Boards Coalition, Information about each board was collected from agency websites and analyzed to determine board purpose and composition, including the presence of nurses on the board. Data was gathered and synthesized into a matrix for comparison.
Findings: Three (5.6%) boards had nurses on them. Further, out of 509 total state board members, only 13 (2.5%) were nurses. Boards with nurse board members serving include the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, Ohio Board of Nursing, and the State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services. Though nurses serve on these health-related boards, all other health-related boards were lacking nursing representation. Nurses provide an essential role in other boards at a state level due to their compassion, regard for the community, leadership abilities, and decision-making skills. Nurses must advocate for themselves and actively pursue roles in both local and state boards as they make valuable additions to many types of decision-making boards.