INSPIRING CHANGE: Empowering frontline nurses to transform shared governance
Cheryl D. Jacobs RN-BC
Cynthia W. Ward MSN, ACNS-BC, CMSRN, RN-BC

July 2012 
Volume 42  Number 7
Pages 18 - 20
  PDF Version Available!

AS WE STARTED our Magnet(R) journey over 7 years ago, shared governance had a genuine appeal. The nurses at our organization were excited about having a voice in their workplace to impact patient care, patient safety, practice issues, and research. We wanted to set the world on fire with the latest and greatest shared governance ever seen within a Magnet organization!This article describes how we first evaluated our system of shared governance and then improved it by simplifying the organizational structure and improving the flow of communication.Our original shared governance model was based on a congressional model with departmental, divisional, and unit councils. All RNs and LPNs were part of the nursing congress with voting privileges. The nursing congress nominated and voted for a chair of the nursing governance board (NGB), as well as one unit manager and one director. The NGB also included one RN from each nursing division, the vice president of nursing, and the senior vice president/CNO, and other ad hoc members as needed.Nurses and members of other disciplines began attending meetings, participating in discussions, and presenting ideas that would lead to solutions to benefit patients, staff, our organization, and community. We were the driving force behind getting the job done.Four councils were set up on each nursing unit: education, professional practice, quality, and resource management. Every direct care nurse was expected to participate on a council. (See Our original communication flow: Round and round.)Just when we thought things were going well, our departmental level council was eliminated due to budget concerns. After several months passed, we came to believe that the elimination of this council hadn't been in our best interest. We developed a plan to reintroduce the departmental level council as a quarterly meeting instead of as a monthly meeting.We then began to see our multilayered shared governance was bogging down communication, resulting in

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