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Boost Nurse Responsibility with Shared Governance

 |  By  
   May 31, 2011

Developing a shared governance structure can empower direct care nurses to make decisions about their practice and take more responsibility. Nurse leaders take note: It has been shown to increase retention and employee satisfaction, improve safety and patient satisfaction, reduce lengths of stay, and result in a more robust bottom line.

Every nurse wants to work in an organization that has a healthy work environment, where team members work collaboratively and collegially, and where nurses make decisions about the way nursing care is practiced, delivered, and measured for continuous improvement.

Ensuring such an environment is simpler if organizations adopt a formal shared governance structure that empowers direct care nurses—and other healthcare workers—to be involved in decision making around patient care in all practice settings.

Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, RN-BC, a regional nurse at the Denver Office of Clinical Consultation and Compliance, Veterans Health Administration, is an expert on shared governance, and has designed a shared governance structure for a number of growing multi-facility healthcare systems as part of their journeys to excellence and American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program® designation.

The model of shared governance engages shared decision-making to result in  shared leadership based on the principles of partnership, equity, accountability, and ownership at the point of service.

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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