You Have a Voice in Patient Care — Why You Need to Use It!

This is Part Two of a four-part series dealing with the Magnet recognition program. Part One listed the 14 “forces of magnetism” and explained why each one is important to the nursing profession.

Nursing is the largest single profession in health care. Yet historically, despite their large numbers, nurses have remained in the background, exerting little influence on health policy or patient care as it has evolved through the years. Perhaps, like many nurses, you’ve never considered the idea that you could shape health care, rather than having changes handed down to you without your input. You may not be aware that you actually have great power.

You are empowered, first of all, by public perception. In an annual survey conducted by Gallup, nurses have consistently ranked at the top of a list of professions that Americans consider to be the most ethical and honest, above even teachers and clergy. Another Gallup poll indicates that nurses are one of the most trusted sources of health information: 83% of those surveyed said they had a great or moderate amount of trust in health and medical information received from nurses. (Surprisingly, media sources and the Internet ranked last in this poll!)

Yet even while it seems that the public holds nurses in great esteem, there’s another perception that the profession must work to change: the notion that nurses are assistants in health care, rather than frontline, knowledge-based workers. The good news is that the leaders who shape public opinion actually want nurses to have more power and influence.

Yes, it’s true – a landmark survey by Gallup and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently reported that top opinion leaders across diverse industries believe nursing’s expertise should be considered in shaping health planning and policy as the new reforms kick in. Sadly, these same opinion leaders ranked nurses sixth – behind government officials, insurance and pharmaceutical executives, doctors, and patients – when it comes to who will actually have the most influence on health reform in the next decade. A press statement from RWJF states that:

Opinion leaders identified the top barriers to nurses’ increased influence and leadership as not being perceived as important decision makers (69%) or revenue generators (68%) compared with doctors; nurses’ focus on primary rather than preventive care (62%); and nursing not having a single voice in speaking on national issues (56%).

The full report is titled Nursing Leadership from Bedside to Boardroom: Opinion Leaders’ Perceptions, and can be seen online. Top areas where nurses can/should have a voice include:

  • Reducing medical errors
  • Increasing quality of patient care
  • Promoting wellness
  • Improving efficiency and reducing costs
  • Shaping medical ethics policies

Think about it. You are the frontline caregiver. You know more about actually delivering care than any other stakeholder in the system. From your unique perspective, you can see where gaps exist in the system and how improvements can be made. Your voice is needed in the health care dialogue.

So what does this all have to do with the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®?

The Magnet program advocates a shared governance model, in which nurse leaders and staff nurses work together to make decisions about patient care and administrative issues.

To achieve this, a hospital often must completely change its culture in ways that both nurse leaders and clinical nurses can embrace.

Learn how you can prepare yourself and your facility for Magnet status with an online RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree.


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What are the Forces of Magnetism and Why Should Nurses Care About Them?
The 3 Types of Nursing Sensitive Indicators