Alumni panel: Nurses should be at the table on healthcare reform

UIC Nursing Reunion panelists

Nurses have a “unique opportunity to drive” national discussions about bringing down healthcare costs, said Michael Patterson, MS ’05, RN, FACHE, president and CEO of Mississippi Valley Health, as part of panel discussion at the UIC College of Nursing’s fall all-alumni REUNION on Oct. 13.

Patterson was joined by two other alumni nurse leaders, Angelique Richard, PhD ’99, RN, chief nursing executive at Rush Health, and Mary Shehan, BSN ’81, RN, DNP, NEA-BC, speaking on the topic of cost-effective, high-quality care.

Patterson, a graduate of our Quad Cities Campus, said healthcare spending is nearing 20 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, which is “not sustainable for any of us.” But he said nurses offer an important perspective on bending that cost curve.

“Because who knows patients best?” he asked. “Nurses.”

Richard said she agrees that the voices of the country’s three million nurses need to be heard, but thinks they’re noticeably absent from the conversation about rising healthcare costs.

“I don’t think the right people are at the table,” she said. “It’s a huge problem. It is complex. I personally feel we need to get the right people to the table, namely, the people closest to patient care.”

The panelists, answering questions from moderators Celine Dalde, BSN ’18, and Franc De Guzman, BSN student, also shared advice for young nurses.

Shehan said nurses embarking on their careers should make sure someone in a leadership position at their organization knows their path so they can act as guides. “If you don’t know your CNO [chief nursing officer], get to know your CNO,” says Shehan. “They should know you.”

Answering a question about how she balances costs and quality, Richard says a focus on quality care will drive costs down.

“Costs and quality go hand-in-hand, meaning that delays, errors and inefficiency are very costly.”

Advice from panelists to future nurse leaders:

Mary Shehan: If you don’t know your CNO, get to know your CNO. They should know you.

Angelique Richard: Say yes. Be open to new opportunities to explore.

Michael Patterson: Take risks. Get comfortable with failing. Listen more than you speak. Have good mentors. Find an organization that embraces that culture.