Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Nurse empowerment and the EBP trend
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed nurses is predicted to grow from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020 to accommodate our expanding aging population. These numbers will lead to a 26% increase, meaning that the demand for nursing jobs—especially for experienced RNs—will grow faster than any other job sector through 2020. There’s a dramatic trend to increase nurse autonomy by ramping up nursing education. For this to be successfully accomplished, nurses must become empowered positive change agents and embrace the demands of their evolving profession by seeking out opportunities to expand their education, insight, and experience.
To effectively make positive changes in your practice and workplace, you must be in a cohesive, supportive work environment. Lack of support from coworkers and leadership teams is directly linked to low job satisfaction and decreased retention rates. Organizational leaders, management teams, and coworkers can cultivate nursing empowerment by being receptive, trusting, and supportive of nurses’ concerns and suggestions for improvement.
A recent research study followed 27 organizational leaders and mid-level supervisors for 1 year after they attended a formal leadership program to fine tune their leadership skills. Four researchers independently collected the data to obtain accurate, qualitative results. This research concluded that when organizational leaders and mid-level supervisors recognized the importance of changing their leadership style to one that’s more supportive, it resulted in increased trust and staff empowerment.
The American Nurses Association recommends that nurses become empowered by increasing their education and participating in shared governance—the practice of shared decision making between organizational leaders and nursing staff to develop safe nurse-patient ratios and protocols, create educational programs, and increase the efficiency or layout of the work area to enhance nursing job satisfaction and patient safety. Nurses are valuable members of organizational leadership teams because they have insight into organizational delays and system failures. This insight can help leaders identify innovative solutions to correct these problems while improving patient safety, care delivery, and nursing job satisfaction and meeting national benchmark standards.
Another way to become empowered is through embracing evidence-based practice (EBP). Currently only 55% of all healthcare practices are evidence driven. The Institute of Medicine’s roundtable report predicts that by 2020, 90% of all healthcare practices will be evidence driven. As nursing job roles and practice begin to be guided toward evidence-based data outcomes, you must become comfortable incorporating EBP into your daily practice. Consider forming an EBP committee with your coworkers to discuss relevant research findings that can improve nursing practice, the work environment, and patient safety.
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By Rita Jordan, MSN, RN
GEC Nurse Educator • Alvin C. York VA Medical Center • Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Charlotte Davis, BSN, RN, CCRN
Direct Care Nurse, CCU/CVICU • Heritage Medical Center • Shelbyville, Tenn.