Janet Leatherwood is the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital
“We take great pride in empowering our nurses to do what is best for the patient.”
Shared governance is a model for shared decision-making based on the principles of partnership, equity, accountability and ownership.
In a shared governance practice environment, some decisions are made by clinicians, some are shared with managers and others are made by managers.
Decision-making possibilities which evolve over time as practitioners explore new ways of delivering care, introduce evidence-based practices and demonstrate accountability for patient outcomes. Eventually, as the shared governance journey unfolds, clinicians discover and experience the benefits of shared decision-making first hand.
In shared governance practice environments, structures are erected to facilitate collaboration and decision-making. Elements include a set of formally documented operating principles, a nursing leadership structure with a defined vision and a councilor/committee structure at both the house wide and unit levels that brings staff to the table in a partnership for shared decision-making.
The actual organizational structure used to implement shared governance supports the professional accountabilities of the nursing organization, for example, clinical practice, professional development, education, quality improvement/assurance, research and evidence based practice and recruitment and retention.
At Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, under the guidance of the Chief Nurse Executive, a strategic plan that supports these accountabilities has been drafted and is periodically updated by nursing leadership. The governance structure has deliberately been aligned with nursing’s strategic plan thereby creating a vehicle for executing these accountabilities.
Strategically, at Houston Methodist, house wide councils/committees are designated and held accountable for each of these components of professional practice. This approach focuses nursing at large on a common set of goals leveraging and advancing the work of nursing.