Health & Medicine

On, Alumnae: Joanne Disch

Disch has long been an advocate for improving health care in the U.S. “I want to blow up our system,” she said in 2007. Submitted photo

Joanne Disch ’68, a former professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota, is known for improving patient safety and health administration. She has testified before Congress, sharing both data and compelling case studies. And she’s not afraid to speak out about the need for health care reform.

“As a nurse,” she told the Minneapolis’s Southwest Journal in 2007, “I think there are a lot better ways to do health care. A lot of people are talking about how do we better finance our current system, and I just roll my eyes because that is not what we need to be doing — I don’t want better financing for our current system; I want to blow up our current system.”

Disch believes that nurses should be more involved in health care leadership, and she has led by example. At the University of Minnesota, she served as interim dean and director of the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership. She was also president of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and the American Academy of Nursing, a board member of the National Center for Healthcare Leadership, and chair of the AARP board, where she guided the 40 million-member organization through a major restructuring.

She currently serves as board chair of Advocate Aurora Health Care, a 27-hospital health system in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 2018, Disch was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing.

As part of the On Wisconsin women’s issue, see other UW alumnae you oughta know.

Published in the Summer 2019 issue


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