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Strong Nurses: Encouraging Empowerment

Many nurses struggle with feeling powerless.

In medical settings, orders are often handed down from above, giving clinical nurses little input in decision-making processes. Yet research shows empowered nurses are productive and motivated, and experience less job strain and burnout.1 That said, empowering nurses is beneficial for medical practices, patients, and the healthcare system as a whole—but what does empowerment look like for clinical nurses? To be able to perform their best, nurses need some decision-making privileges in these three areas.


Patient Care

Nurses are on the front lines of patient care. Trained to be attuned to their patients’ needs and to respond with appropriate actions, many nurses feel unable to care for patients in the manner they feel is best because every decision is restricted by organizational guidelines or administrative edicts. When nurses are denied basic autonomy, they feel frustrated because they can’t help as much as they want to—their hands are tied. To remedy this, organizations must make allowances for nursing autonomy within appropriate boundaries.

Organizational Planning

Even if nurses feel empowered to make decisions about patient care, they might be frustrated by the lack of power they have over the context of their practice. Hospitals and medical practices that give nurses a voice in organizational decision-making reap many rewards. They benefit from the nurses’ wisdom and proximity to patients, and nurses experience increased confidence in their roles. An openness to clinical nurse input at the planning and organizational level of a medical practice often results in better patient care and improved outcomes because everyone is happier and more productive when they are working as a cohesive team.

Continuing Education

Nurses typically have less formal education than the doctors they might be working with, and as a result, their decision-making competency might be questioned. Longevity at a particular healthcare organization can help to expand a nurse’s influence, but it involves a significant investment of time. Earning an additional nursing degree is another, more efficient way to gain valuable expertise and broaden professional opportunities. When clinical nurses have the freedom to pursue further education, they benefit by gaining more autonomy in a relatively short time.

Are you interested in pursuing the next level of education to further your nursing career? Walden University offers advanced nursing programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, and the online format allows you to earn your degree without interrupting your nursing career. Some Walden nursing programs even offer a competency-based format for those who prefer an even more flexible option for earning a degree. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Walden’s BSN, MSN, and DNP programs offer curriculum that’s aligned with guidelines from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Walden University is an accredited institution that offers online nursing programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,