To describe the impact of the implementation of interprofessional shared governance and a caring professional practice model (Relationship-Based Care [RBC]) on the staff's self-report of caring, work engagement, and workplace empowerment over a 4-year time frame.
Shared or interprofessional governance has moved mainstream within healthcare settings, particularly within agencies seeking to sustain high reliability in the offering of quality patient care services and/or interest in meeting Magnet®
standards or embarking upon the Pathway to Excellence®
. Nurse leaders report that organizations having implemented shared governance thrive, citing professional governance as key to workplace engagement and empowerment, particularly related to quality care initiatives. Transition to interprofessional shared governance structures typically takes 2 to 3 years. It is unknown whether related outcome variables are sustainable over time.
Utilizing Watson's theory of human caring and appreciative inquiry as underlying frameworks, a longitudinal, quantitative study design was employed. Interprofessional focus groups and introductory sessions were offered to inform and engage all personnel within the medical center. Motivated units were identified, professional shared governance council members elected, and unit-specific education provided. Quality improvement initiatives were facilitated within unit councils, and formal leadership programs to enhance project guidance and to support staff empowerment skills for the managers of the units that were up-and-running were provided. Preimplementation and postimplementation measurements of staff's caring, workplace engagement and work empowerment were assessed, compared, and trended across units over time.
Only work empowerment scores among staff working within RBC units were sustainable and increased progressively and significantly over time. Work engagement levels initially rose and then stabilized over time. Caring levels remained stable despite the implementation of a caring professional practice model. Statistically significant correlations were noted between work engagement and empowerment, followed by the relationship between work engagement and caring, followed by the relationship between empowerment and caring.
The sustainability of work empowerment is likely related to the periodic provision of education for leaders regarding leading within an empowered work environment. A stronger focus on staff caring, particularly within quality improvement initiatives, with leadership guidance, will be paramount moving forward.