By Crystal Norris, R.N.
Sometimes as nurses, we can feel powerless in situations that arise. With the constant changes in healthcare, we have trouble advocating for our patients, as well as ourselves. Our perception is that we are unable to act autonomously or even have a voice in the policies that affect us. Bedside nurses, as well as nurse leaders, need to be empowered to speak up for themselves and the patients they help.
Powerlessness trickles down and causes a variety of problems in the nursing profession. Frustration from lack of power can create job dissatisfaction, stress, and nursing burnout. These things lead to high nurse turnover rates and short staffing, which causes further discontent in the nursing profession.
Nurses that feel a sense of empowerment demonstrate independent decision-making and autonomy. This empowerment helps us contribute to our role as genuine stakeholders in the complete delivery care system for our patients. Empowered nurses can perform well without constant feedback from superiors. So what can we do to feel more empowered in the hospital setting? See below for some suggestions.
Educate yourself on policies and procedures - Make sure you are up-to-date on all policies and procedures related to your unit. Don't delete emails you may receive about policy updates. Use these as a blueprint you can use to guide your care. Stay current with evidence-based practice data. Look into continuing education courses provided by your workplace, nursing associations, conventions, or colleges. When nurses use evidence-based practice, patient outcomes improve.
Use your resources wisely - Nurses must be good porters of existing resources – including medical supplies and other things we need to do our jobs adequately. As nurses, we help shape evidence-based practice when it comes to these resources. Simply suggesting simple changes in handling procedures that could save time and steps.
Humanize your communication with patients as well as your coworkers - Speak to others in clear language and on the same level as your patients. Don't talk to your patients from behind a computer screen. Sit down and get on their level while asking assessment questions.
Embrace change - Nothing in the healthcare industry (or life really), is constant except change. Being "set in your ways" as a nurse and not moving with the fluidity of change will only hinder you from being successful. Not only should you walk with change, but you should also always be looking for more efficient ways to be more productive. Empower yourself to be successful by being an advocate for change.
Get certified in your specialty - Look into certifications in your particular specialty. Getting certifications will broaden your knowledge base and make you feel more confident in the decisions you make every day on your unit. These certifications will also look beautiful on your resume and empower your negotiating skills during interviews in the job market.
Being an empowered nurse means that you can motivate and mobilize yourself as well as those around you to live up to your potential on your unit. Use all the educational resources available to you to build a knowledge-based arsenal to prepare yourself for any challenge you may face. Embrace changes that may come your way, and use effective communication to connect with your patients and co-workers. These tools will help you become a better nurse and empower you to make a difference.
About The Author
Crystal Lynn Norris RN - Crystal has been a Registered Nurse specializing in Labor & Delivery for the past three years. Her favorite part of her profession is being able to help women to find their strength bringing new life into the world. Crystal is a wife and mother to her sweet daughter Ruby. In her free time, she enjoys writing, traveling, and spending time with family.