Empowering Nurses to Speak Up

by Lori Chovanak, MN, RN, APRN-BC, CEO of the Ohio Nurses Association

A Gallup study conducted in December of 2016 reaffirmed that nurses are the most trusted profession, with 84% of Americans rating nurses as very high/high in terms of honesty and ethics. This demonstrates the fact that many patients invest a lot of trust into nurses to give them the care they need, and to do so thoroughly. In order to maximize our impact, nurses must look beyond the bedside of individual patient care and recognize the aspects of healthcare that impact our patients on a much larger scale. As CEO of Ohio Nurses Association, I am a strong advocate for the empowerment of nurses to speak their minds and acknowledge the much more far-reaching issues that exist in the healthcare field.

If nurses feel empowered to be bold and speak up when they identify opportunities to make changes in their environment, issues such as preventable medical errors in nursing practice could be recognized and avoided. There are a variety of means in which nurses can increase their engagement and develop a more global approach to their profession. Nurses have an ability to truly make a much larger impact than they may realize, and that should inspire them to do so. Nurses should seek out issues they identify with and strive to find solutions. There are two primary ways in which nurses can make their voices heard:

  • The first is connecting with professional organizations that are actively addressing issues, which allows nurses to be a part of the change they wish to see in healthcare.
  • The second is using our voices to put forth our own ideas, opinions, solutions, and concerns where decisions are being made. Becoming involved with these organizations and using our voice in the decision-making process can both be incorporated into our daily practice as nurses.

I knew that if I didn’t engage in this broader view of my role as a nurse, I would potentially burn out and become frustrated by the healthcare profession. Certain issues in healthcare create ethical dilemmas; as nurses may know what a patient needs, but won’t have the services, resources, or support to fully fulfill patient needs. By finding empowerment and being emboldened to speak up about these problems through advocacy efforts, nurses can inspire change to occur within their own hospital, or even hospitals throughout the country.

To learn more about how and why I believe nurses should be empowered to speak up, read my article on LinkedIn.