Empowerment: The Key to Nurse Wellness

Find out how leadership teams can empower nurses to promote a healthy culture and improve nurse well-being.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently highlighted the fact that nurses have a 14 percent higher-than-average incidence of poor cardiac health due to job stress. This statistic is just one example of the many adverse consequences of nurse burnout and distress. Here’s what the research has to say about the causes of distress in the nursing profession, and how organizational restructuring and empowerment can improve nurse wellness.

Why are nurses especially subject to work stress?

The nursing position has been recognized as a stressful job role for many years. Research on stress and burnout in the nursing profession cites “physical labor, human suffering, work hours, staffing, and interpersonal relationships” as contributors to distress, along with the “increasing use of technology, continuing rises in health care costs, and turbulence within the work environment” that have taken place in more recent years.

The Symptoms of Nurse Distress

It may seem obvious that having healthcare facilities staffed with highly distressed nurses is not a good situation—but many don’t realize the full impact and devastating symptoms of distress on the nurses themselves, the patient, and the organization.

  • Increased illness: The immune system’s response to stress leads to increased illness, which in turn leads to absence and staffing problems on nursing teams causing even more distress.
  • Higher turnover: Hiring and orienting new nurses is time-consuming and expensive, and it also creates a drain on an organization’s more experienced staff.
  • Worse patient outcomes: Studies show that mortality and morbidity rates are higher among patients of overburdened nursing staff. Poorer caring behaviors also occur, as overstressed nurses simply aren’t able to perform at their normal capacity.

How Empowerment Reduces Distress

Multiple studies over the years indicate that an empowered role at work is associated with less job tension, more engagement, better outcomes, and a strong positive feeling about one’s work.

What does an empowered work environment look like?

Empowerment requires support by leadership that is “inclusive, non-authoritarian, visionary, and emotionally intelligent,” according to an article published in Nursing Management. It is nurtured by an environment of safety, in which nurses can initiate changes that will help them perform more effectively. Or, as the article succinctly phrases it, “Nothing about me without me.”

Leveraging Structural Empowerment

According to Martie Moore, RN, CNO of Medline Industries, “Nurse empowerment largely hinges on the infrastructure and communication design of an organization.”

Changing your management structure to prioritize staff empowerment is the best approach because then your long-term sustainability isn’t dependent on one particular staff member’s leadership skills. Nursing Management defines an empowering structure as one which supports “shared team governance, open leadership communication, and supportive and empathetic nursing team relationships.” Shared governance, according to a continuing education course at Nurse.com, consists of “teams of nurses who are self-managed, autonomous in problem-solving, and are decision-makers for patients and nurses.”

Relief Comes From the Top Down

Leaving nurse distress unaddressed is a failure of management that not only endangers the lives of providers but also has a direct effect on quality of care and patient safety. Moving forward, healthcare organizations must understand the current state of their nurses’ well-being and enact systemic changes such as those described above in order to reduce the negative impacts of distress on both the individuals and the institutions.

Related Posts

Privacy Preferences
Web privacy policy
We take your privacy seriously, and we want you to know how we collect, use, share and protect your information.

What information we collect
We respect the right to privacy of all visitors to the Champions of Wellness site. We do not collect information that would personally identify you unless you choose to provide it. The personal information that you submit, such as on the request a quote page, is shared only with those people within the Champions of Wellness organization who need this information to respond to your request and we will utilize the information to improve Champions of Wellness operations. Information submitted through Champions of Wellness's online forms may be collected to ensure technical functionality. It will also be utilized to report any inappropriate use of our website. We do not save personal information to use for other purposes, nor do we provide it to any other groups.

Email communications, newsletter and related services
Champions of Wellness provides you with the opportunity to receive communications from us or third parties. You can sign up for a free email newsletter as well as unsubscribe from this at any time.

Email communications that you send to us via the contact and email links on our site may be shared with any member of our team and will be directed to the person most able to address your message. We make every effort to respond in a timely fashion once communications are received. Once we have responded to your communication, it is discarded or archived, depending on the nature of the message.

The email functionality on our site does not provide a completely secure and confidential means of communication. It's possible that your email communication may be accessed or viewed by another Internet user while in transit to us. If you wish to keep your communication private, do not use our email and call 888-426-7793.

You may decide at some point that you no longer wish to receive communications from our site. To stop receiving communications, send an email message to us.

We, from time to time, survey visitors to our site. The information is used in an aggregated, de-identified form to help us understand the needs of our visitors so that we can improve our visitor experience. The information may be shared with third parties with whom we have a business relationship. We generally do not ask for information in the surveys that would personally identify you. If we do request contact information for follow-up, you may decline to provide it. If survey respondents provide personal information, it is shared only with those people who need to see it to respond to the question or request, or with third parties who perform data management services for our site. Those third parties have agreed to keep all data from surveys confidential.

IP addresses
The Web server will automatically collect the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computers that access the Champions of Wellness site. An IP address is a number that is assigned to your computer when you access the Internet. It is not truly personally identifiable information because many different individuals can access the Internet via the same computer. We use this information in aggregate form to understand how our site or advertisements from Champions of Wellness are being used and how we can better serve visitors.

Cookies and other tracking technology
We collect information about visitors to our site using "cookies" and similar technology such as event tracking, pixel tags, visitor usage recordings and so on. We use this technology to recognize a repeat visitor and offer the visitor a set of content targeted based on a previous visit. We use session cookies to track a visitor's path through our site during a visit, to help us understand how people use our site and interact with us in order for us to continually improve our visitor experience.

How we use the information we collect

We use the information we collect for things like:
• Fulfilling requests for services or information
• Marketing and advertising products and services
• Conducting research and analysis
• Communicating things like special events and surveys
• Establishing and managing your account with us
• Identifying you on our websites and tailoring advertisements and offers to you (both on our websites and on other websites) based on your interactions with us in person and online
• Operating, evaluating and improving our business and website

Data retention
We will retain your information for as long as your account is active or as needed to provide you services, comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, and enforce our agreements.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations or other valid legal processes, we will not share any personally identifiable information we receive from you with any parties outside of Champions of Wellness.

We may share some information to third parties
We may share your personally identifiable information with third parties who we have engaged to help us provide you services. In each case, we will ensure that these third parties have agreed not to use or disclose your personal information except to help us provide the services.

Except as noted above for newsletters and surveys, Champions of Wellness does not provide any third party access to your IP address and email address.

We may provide third parties with aggregate statistics about our visitors, traffic and related site information. This data reflects site-usage patterns gathered during visits to our website each month, but they do not contain behavioral or identifying information about any individual member unless that member has given us permission to share that information.

To help us determine the effectiveness of our advertising, we work with Web analytics tools hosted by third parties who receive non-identifiable information from your browser, including but not limited to the site or the advertisement you came from, your IP address, your general geographic location, your browser and platform information, and the pages you view within our site.

Ads by Google
Note that Google, as a third party vendor, uses cookies to serve ads on our site. Google's use of the DART cookie enables it to serve ads to our site users based on their visit to our site and other sites on the Internet. No personally identifiable information is collected as part of Google's process. Users may opt out of the use of this DART cookie by visiting Google's privacy document.
If you would like more information about these practices and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, visit the Network Advertising Initiative. Some ad servers allow you to opt out of anonymous data collection through the use of cookies. To do so, you must opt out of such data collection with each individual site. You can opt out of cookies for several ad servers by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative gateway opt-out site. At that site you can also review the privacy policies of those ad servers.

Protecting your privacy
Whether you are visiting theChampions of Wellness site or working with one of our team members, we use reasonable security measures to protect the confidentiality of personal information under our control and appropriately limit access to it. Champions of Wellness cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk. We have taken reasonable steps to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the personal information that you may provide. You should understand, however, that electronic transmissions via the Internet are not necessarily secure from interception, and so we cannot 100% guarantee the security or confidentiality of such transmissions.

If you reached this site via an ad from Champions of Wellness
If you come to a Champions of Wellness website via a Champions of Wellness advertisement, the ad may have been served to you based on your interests or selected for you based on your browsing activities.

Protecting children's privacy
We are committed to protecting children's privacy on the Internet, and we do not knowingly collect any personal information from children.

Links to other websites
Our websites link to client websites, many of which have their own privacy policies. Be sure to review the privacy policy on the site you're visiting.

Privacy policy updates
We may need to update our privacy policy as technology changes and Champions of Wellness evolves. If we make significant changes to this privacy policy, we'll update it here.

This policy was last updated in August 2021.