Women excel in leadership roles at Northern Arizona Healthcare

While women are generally the primary healthcare decision makers for their households and outnumber men in the healthcare workforce, men continue to dominate healthcare leadership roles. Women hold only 19 percent of hospital CEO positions.

Northern Arizona Healthcare, with the appointment of NAH president and CEO Florence L. Spyrow, MSN, FACHE, JD, MHA, MPA, and reappointed NAH Board of Directors Chair Alice Gagnaire, RN, BSN, MHSA, is among industry leaders, such as Amazon, in placing women in the highest leadership roles within an organization. Amazon and its health company partners Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase hired its first female executive, Dana Safran, in late November.

“Placing women in leadership roles in healthcare makes sense,” Spyrow said. “The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that women make 80 percent of healthcare decisions in the United States, whether those are for herself, her significant other, her children or her parents. As we move into the New Era at NAH, providing our communities with what they need and want in terms of health and wellness is vital, and we know women are defining these expectations.”

Spyrow and Gagnaire are just two of NAH’s key female leaders improving the health of the communities NAH serves. Of the 13 members of NAH’s senior leadership team, six are women; and half of NAH’s Board of Directors are women. NAH believes gender diversity among leaders allows a greater span of experience, knowledge and skillsets.

A recent trend in healthcare leadership is nurses in executive roles. Nurses make up three-quarters of the people working in healthcare systems, and offer unique and valuable perspectives on patient care services across the healthcare continuum.

Spyrow and Gagnaire, both nurses, serve alongside other nursing leaders at NAH, including Carole E. Peet, MSN, MBA, FACHE, executive vice president and Verde Valley Medical Center chief administrative officer; Katy Wilkens, RN, chief nursing officer of Flagstaff Medical Center; Lori Green, RN, chief nursing officer of Verde Valley Medical Center; and Guadalupe Woodson, FNP, NAH Board of Directors governing council chair for FMC.

Nurses in key leadership roles can influence our patient care delivery, nursing education and management of community health needs. A background in caring directly for patients gives nurse leaders a foundation that is invaluable to providing patient-centered care.

Alice Gagnaire