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Shared Governance Lets Nurses Be Agents of Change

Shared Governance Lets Nurses Be Agents of Change

Heather Stringer /

Agreeing this issue needed to be addressed, the council extensively researched how often patients should be tested. In September 2005, the hospital implemented new guidelines based on the council’s findings.

“It was really invigorating to be part of something that affects patient care in a good way,” says O’Brien, now a unit manager. “As a member of the council, you really get past your day-to-day duties and start to think about what you are doing. It makes you think like a professional, and that is the part that is really fulfilling.”

Another perk of shared governance is the chance to work alongside physicians to achieve a common goal. “Nurses have historically been under physicians, and to come together collaboratively is really rewarding,” O’Brien says.

Taking Ownership

Governance councils can also pursue goals that require input from multiple departments. That was the case at El Camino Hospital, when the emergency department partnership council decided reducing hospital bed wait times by 20 percent was in order.

Meeting in monthly, two-hour sessions, the council, which included physicians, nurses, an emergency department technician and administrative staff, decided to establish a triage area for ER patients who could be treated quickly, thus leaving ER beds free for patients with more serious conditions.

In parallel, the ER council met with radiology and lab council reps as well as the hospital bed coordinator to work through how those units could speed up their processes so ER patients could be moved into hospital beds faster.

After many meetings, the emergency department council achieved its goal. Now the group continually evaluates the process and identifies areas for improvement.

“It takes patience and planning,” says Audrey Prairo, RN, a certified emergency nurse and nursing unit coordinator for the hospital’s emergency department. “But I find it very fulfilling to implement a new process that makes things run more smoothly. It improves morale, because we take pride and ownership in what we are doing.”

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