Today, I read a blog about the 10 commandments of empowerment. It seemed somewhat serendipitous, given the last three staff meetings I have attended. Why? Because during those meetings, we discussed professional governance, the role of council members, adopting change and the amazing capabilities that each of you has to offer to your department and to nursing at UCLA Health. As individuals, sometimes challenges may seem too big or not within our control. It may be a patient trying to understand how to cope with a new diagnosis or a chronic illness or a nurse trying to coordinate a care plan or a director trying to change a clinical practice. The interesting thing is that in each instance, the individual involved does have the ability to overcome his or her challenge. Unfortunately, they may not feel at the time that they are empowered to make that change. How do we help people embrace empowerment?
First, we have to understand what empowerment is and what it takes to really empower a person to act. Making any kind of change takes courage, since it often is a time when people feel unsure of their environment, and even of themselves in that new environment. What do we need to know about ourselves to empower others? Do you have the feeling of being in control of the change being presented? Do you believe that you have autonomy in your practice? Are you confident in your practice?
If you do feel empowered, you are the nurse who feels supported by colleagues and supervisors. You work in an environment where there is rapport and trust among colleagues. There is a healthy exchange of ideas and lots of gentle curiosity when solving problems and sharing challenges. You feel encouraged, and your suggestions are appreciated. You feel capable and confident in your work and speak with confidence about the way things really are because you are closest to the patient. You feel compelled to share stories that exemplify the importance of compassion when caring for a patient and a passion for nursing practice and excellence. You are proud of being a nurse and proud to be a member of your team. Most important, when you may not feel like your most empowered you, you know there are peers, colleagues and leaders who listen, encourage and support you in your ability to find answers and the confidence to act.
Is this you? I truly believe it could be.