1. Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC

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Q: What does it mean to empower someone and how is this applicable to nursing?

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A: Empowerment in nursing is a vital aspect of ensuring our professional success. Nurse empowerment can be attained when our organizations place decision making in the hands of those who practice at the bedside, giving us the authority to share leadership roles or assist others to engage fully in a process, and when we actively and autonomously participate in policies or events that affect our patients'-and our own-health and well-being.


Historically, nursing was viewed as a job that was subservient to physicians and dependent rather than independent. Nurses had very little, if any, voice in policy and procedures or practice standards. Today, we're much more empowered as a profession to collectively guide research and evidence-based practice. We're a powerful force in advocating for patient safety within our organizations and nationally as lobbyists and legislative participants. It's now recognized that structurally empowered nurses are best equipped to protect patients' rights.


At the organizational level, shared governance is the best tool for nurse empowerment, allowing us to openly discuss safety concerns and practice barriers, and be involved with identifying and implementing solutions. To be successful, shared governance must be combined with a just culture that looks at processes and problem resolution as a big picture intervention affecting and involving every layer of the organization. Empowerment needs to be a part of the organizational culture and supported at every level. We know that this works by looking at the quality data, nursing and patient satisfaction, and process outcomes at Magnet(R)-recognized hospitals.


Healthcare organizations must focus on how to empower and engage nurses, especially given decreasing resources and increasing demands, supporting the creative ability of multidisciplinary teams to provide safe, quality patient care. Nurse leaders and professional development educators can utilize transformational leadership and be aware of person-job fit to promote nurse empowerment and engagement.


I recently saw a poster for empowerment that pictured a group of people with their arms held high turning into intertwined branches; together, they were empowerment. What a positive message and how appropriate for nursing-intertwined, collaborative, and supportive.




Free Empowerment.


Moore S. Structural empowerment and the Magnet Model: a perfect fit. https://


Potratz E. Transforming Care at the Bedside: a model to promote staff nurse empowerment and engagement.


Smith NJ. Nursing and change: is it time to revisit empowerment. Int J Nurs Sci. 2014;1(2):134-136.