Nurses Agent of Change Through Governance

Nurses Agent of Change Through Governance

Monster Contributor Heather Stringer

April 20, 2009

Nurses are discovering how to transform their frustrations into accomplishments by participating in a form of leadership known as shared governance.

“Shared governance recognizes the professional status of the nurse,” says Kevin Hannifan, vice president and chief operating officer at Hartford Hospital, where shared governance started to take form at the end of 1999. “Instead of having guys like me or directors of nursing telling them what to do, we want them to tell us what to do.”

The specifics of shared governance vary by hospital, but typically nurses and other members on a unit form a council group to evaluate the status quo and recommend changes they deem necessary, changes that can dramatically impact the quality of patient care. Depending on the facility, nurses interested in joining a council are either invited by a manager or may volunteer.

While the concept of shared governance is about 30 years old, hospitals today are revitalizing it as one way to improve nurses’ job satisfaction. This organizational model can also help hospitals earn Magnet status, an award for nursing excellence granted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Shared Governance in Action

At Hartford Hospital, representatives from different shifts and jobs within a unit meet for an hour each month to evaluate patient care and discuss how to implement changes. Decisions are by consensus, not a vote. Councils from different units then meet monthly to exchange ideas.

When she was an ambulatory care staff nurse at Hartford Hospital, Cynthia O’Brien, RN, was invited by her nursing director to join the unit’s practice council, which included three other staff nurses, a physician, a nurse practitioner, a nurse’s aid and an administrative assistant. Initially, staff members were invited by managers to participate in councils, but now those with any level of experience can volunteer.

  • Pict0012_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    What nurses really need is a council made up solely of bedside nurses who are not going to be influenced by the administrative needs of the hospital. These nurses discuss the real problems and come up with solutions that management HAS to take seriously.

    Often these shared governance councils just become an other way for administrations to force change that is not good for patients with seeming approval of the bedside nurses who are trying to advocate for their patients.

    I don't want 'shared governance,' I want the administration to be responsible in giving me the tools I need to properly care for my patients. I want them to listen to the responsible things I say I need and act. I've found that having a committee made up of bedside nurses that is open to hearing all the patient care problems of bedside nurses and that has clout by contract with the administration (that is the administration has to respond to their findings), helps patients the most.

  • Archive_nurse_max50


    about 7 years ago



NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.