SCCA’s 350-member nursing force is making significant strides in staff-driven decision-making by establishing an innovative organizational model that will foster excellence in clinical practice, accountability, and the empowerment of nurses.
Across the organization, SCCA nurses have been working together for nine months to envision and shape the structure that best supports greater nurse participation in clinical decisions, Janice Lloyd, an SCCA nurse.
“We are doing shared leadership at SCCA because it’s the right thing to do for nursing,” she said.
According to Lloyd, nurses are helping define SCCA’s shared leadership.
“Shared leadership is characterized by partnership, equity, ownership and accountability, and we see these characteristics in SCCA nurses every day,” Lloyd said. “We’re confident that together we can move this from a design to a reality.”
Nursing experts say the structures and processes for nursing are different in every organization. At SCCA, staff nurse participation in shared leadership is one of the most important aspects of their work.
The model being developed at SCCA will give staff nurses more control over their practice and help extend their influence into administrative areas previously controlled only by managers, said Terri Cunningham, RN, MSN, AOCN. Cunningham and Lloyd are co-leading the charge for the organization’s shared leadership working groups.
Nursing shared leadership provides a valuable tool for retaining nurses. As structures and processes differ in every organization, it’s important to apply the principles of shared leadership to meet the unique needs of SCCA, according to Lloyd and Cunningham.
“Shared leadership is a model of shared decision-making that gives staff nurses autonomy over their practice,” Cunningham said.
That starts with sitting down and learning from each other.
“We had multiple folks at the table because it was really important to us that we had staff, clinic nurses, all roles that include direct patient care and significant voices feed into our design,” Cunningham said. “We sought a structure of the design that would match our culture here at SCCA.”
The theme of shared leadership is staff making decisions about their practices, Cunningham said, so a variety of staff had to be at the table to make decisions about adjusting the way we work.
Nurses established house-wide councils, clinical practice councils, and professional development councils based on evidence to improve patient outcomes.
SCCA’s nurses have been divided into 10 different nursing areas. Those are 10 local practice councils, all with the nurses who are doing direct care. Members of those councils sit on house-wide councils, including clinical practice and professional development.
When it comes to taking action, voting is conducted at a local level, with votes indicated simply by a thumb up or thumb down.
“We strive for consensus,” Cunningham said. “And when that’s working, it is wonderful to see. Our stance in making a decision is with staff at your side, where you get input from them informs everyone as you move forward.”
For devoted health care professionals like SCCA nurses, Lloyd and Cunningham aim to keep moving forward in determining how SCCA can improve and help nursing staff members have resilience to keep doing the important work they do each day.
For SCCA, that’s a thumb up.