Baccalaureate Nursing Students' Perceptions of Structural Empowerment and Their Transition Into Practice

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Shelley C. Moore, PhD, MSN, RN
School of Nursing, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN

Learning Objective 1: Describe why empowerment of nurses must begin in nursing school.

Learning Objective 2: Outline strategies for facilitating structural empowerment in student nurses and new graduates.

The quality of patient care is directly associated with nurses’ empowerment to act in their patients’ behalf (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2004).  In 2010, the IOM declared that “nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States”(Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2010, p. 1). Nurses are required to have fundamental preparation to lead, change, and advance health.  Understanding perceptions of structural empowerment of student and recently graduated nurses can inform thinking of nursing faculty and healthcare organization administrators so that strategies can be implemented to facilitate successful nursing leadership of inter-professional teams, coordination of complicated care in a complex environment, and preservation of quality and safety at the point of care.  
This presentation will discuss conditions of learning effectiveness in nursing school and how this can translate into needs and expectations of new graduate nurses.  Data from a recent study of 203 student nurses from 17 different states will be summarized according to Kanter's theory of structural empowerment. Differences among groups by gender, age, semester, work experience, GPA, and ethnicity, and the avenues of empowerment will be described. Latest literature on strategies for transitioning into practice will be highlighted. To advocate for others, nurses themselves need a strong sense of empowerment.  If the student nurse’s learning environment engenders a sense of empowerment, the nursing graduate may be more likely to practice with confidence and competence.  Once the graduate nurse gets hired onto a healthcare team, it is in everyone’s best interest – the patient, the agency, the nurse – for the nurse to work within a positive work environment.  Structural empowerment is something that can be consciously cultivated within both the learning and the work environment.  Helpful strategies for nursing leaders will be discussed.