HealthOctober 06, 2017

At the core of Magnet: Structural empowerment

A look at Structural Empowerment and why this is an essential component of the ANCC Magnet Recognition (R) model.

Only a couple more days until the ANCC National Magnet 2017 Conference! To help get into ‘Magnet mode,’ our “Calling the Shots: Nursing News and Notes” blog is taking a closer look at the ‘forces of Magnetism’ with a 4-part series on the components of the current ANCC Magnet Recognition® model.  Today’s blog is the second installment that focuses on Structural Empowerment.

In Magnet-designated organizations, the input of direct care nurses matters. Structural empowerment — providing nurses with the power to have a meaningful say in the day-to-day running of a facility — is a key component of the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program ® model.

Under structural empowerment, “professional practice flourishes and the organization's mission, vision, and values come to life,” then-Magnet Recognition Program director Craig Luzinski, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, wrote in a Journal of Nursing Administration column. “Staff members are developed, directed, and empowered to find the best way to accomplish goals and achieve desired outcomes. Flexibility is encouraged; one size does not fit all.”

Luzinski went on to explain that structural empowerment has 4 characteristics: shared decision making, influential nurses, lifelong professional development, and strong community partnerships. When they exist simultaneously, the workplace stage is set for Magnet magic.

Shared decision making & influential nurses

Structural empowerment makes room for shared decision making involving direct care nurses through an organizational structure that is decentralized. While the chief nursing officer has an active role on the highest-level councils and committees, standards of practice and other issues of concern are handled by groups that allow direct care nurses of all levels to exercise influence.

“Direct care nurses are involved in the creation and development of personnel policies and programs that support professional nursing practice, work/life balance, and the delivery of quality care,” Luzinski wrote.

Shared decision making presents challenges. Chiefly, allowing bedside nurses dedicated time away from patient care to attend meetings may seem too costly. But as health care organizations grow, the number of nurses involved in shared decision making must grow, too.

“Transformational leaders in Magnet organization proactively address the issue of balancing costs,” Luzinski observed, “and the importance of maintaining a culture of engagement.”

Lifelong professional development

Professional growth and development is an essential piece of structural empowerment for staff nurses and includes formal education, professional certification, and career advancement.

In facilities, this takes the form of strategies to increase the BSN rate, to encourage professional certifications, and to promote graduate degrees among nurses. In short, workplaces that emphasize professional growth and development empower nurses to attain the level of education and practice that allows them to thrive.

“Magnet organizations value and support the personal and professional growth and development of staff,” Luzinski observed.

Strong community partnerships

Nurses and patients benefit from relationships beyond the bounds of hospital walls, making strong community partnerships an important part of structural empowerment.

“Magnet hospitals work to develop these relationships through their strategic plan, structure, systems, policies, and programs,” Luzinski wrote. “Internally, their services are seen as essential by other members of the healthcare team, and they effectively impact system-wide processes.”

Encouraging nurses to shine in the community is not only rewarding for nurses, but it also advances the image of the organization as well as the nursing profession and allows nurses to further exercise influence. Facilities that empower nurses in this way acknowledge their contributions through individual praise and larger-scale celebrations.

Empowered nurses

Structural empowerment provides nurses with the opportunity to engage, grow, and influence. Health care facilities that function at their best empower their nurses to be their best.

Don’t miss the next installment of our blog series on the ANCC Magnet Recognition ® model that will examine Exemplary Professional Practice, coming early next week. 

Headed to Houston for the ANCC National Magnet Conference next week? Stop by and visit us in booth #615 where you can get a FREE caricature drawing.  

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