Shared Governance: What Exactly Is It?

The concept of shared governance is a prevailing topic in the world of nursing. But do you know what it means or why it is so important? If you’re new to the idea, it can be a little challenging to understand. Keep reading to learn more about what it is and what its main goals are.

What Is It?

The shared governance model was developed by Tim Porter-O’Grady over thirty years ago with the goal of setting out specific directions for professional nursing. It involves integrating core values and beliefs that nursing entertains as a method of providing the best care. Ultimately, it was designed to improve all aspects of nursing, including work satisfaction, retention, and work environment.

Shared governance encourages nurses to collaborate with others and use a variety of input to create new methods for organization and work safety, as well as to maintain a satisfactory work experience for all.

How to Establish a Shared Governance Committee

The essence of shared governance lies in the use of councils and committees. These groups should be made up of motivated and capable nurses whose main interest lies in the greater good. Together, they work towards a common goal and will do everything they can to ensure they reach it. Here are a few essential things to think about when forming a shared governance committee.

  • The Leader – A good leader is one who doesn’t take all the control for herself, but rather directs her committee members and works with them. She will allow nurses the majority of the control and will offer her expertise. She also serves as a sort of middleman between the nurse committee and supervisors or managers that make requests or lay out goals for the committee to achieve.
  • The Nurses – The members of the committee must be flexible and willing to work not for themselves but for the interest of the staff as a whole. These nurses must be respected and must not feel that the committee is taking them away from their regularly scheduled daily duties. However, they should be willing to make arrangements if needed and be adaptable to any changes that the committee sees fit to enforce.
  • The Nurse Executive – Nurse executives serve as added support to the committee. Ideally, they should be invested in the committee and their decisions and provide advice and help wherever needed. Essentially, the nurse executive, while not necessarily part of the committee, should be openly engaged in backing them up or offering support.
  • The Nurse Manager – A nurse manager should be serving on the shared governance committee as a way of providing some extra leadership if needed. If the nurse managers are not serving on the committee themselves, they should support those nurses who are. For example, a nurse manager will refrain from adding to the workload unnecessarily of a nurse who is on the committee. She should be patient and understanding of the important work the committee is doing and will not stand in the way of committee decisions, as appropriate.
  • Participation – When members of staff here that there is a committee to be organized, they won’t generally jump at the volunteer opportunity. It is important to recognize, then, that nurses need to be gently encouraged to join in. After all, a committee cannot exist without several members, so it’s crucial to have employee buy-in. Participation in the committee or council can be incentivized in various ways, or it can serve as a requirement for promotions.

What Does a Shared Governance Committee Do?

There are lots of different types of committees that can be formed by nurses. Any area of work where nurses should have a voice is open to forming a council. Here are a few examples of these types of committees and what they do.

  • Falls Prevention Committee – this type of committee will focus on preventing patient falls. They will implement the Morse Falls Scale as a way of reaching their goal, and they may also devise their own methods of handling falls that have occurred. They might choose to invite nurses to optional trainings to improve the skills needed when dealing with high-risk patients.
  • Practice and Policy Committee – Because each health organization and facility are different, they will generally have different workplace policies or common practices. By forming this type of committee, nurses can have a say in what policies are implemented and how they can be positively changed to improve the workplace.
  • Patient Satisfaction Committee – Patients are the heart of any hospital or clinic, and as such, their satisfaction with treatment and interactions with staff should be of utmost importance. This committee will work on devising methods of taking account of patient satisfaction and then following up with further ways to improve that satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

Shared governance may sound like a complicated term, and it is true that there are a lot of things you need to think about when deciding to implement this model in your organization. However, the benefits are undeniable, and those organizations that use these structures show marked improvement in both employee and patient satisfaction.

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