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My facility is in the early stages of preparing to apply for American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program® designation, and I am interested in finding out more about the importance of shared governance in the journey itself.

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The mission of the ANCC is to promote excellence in nursing and healthcare globally through credentialing programs and related services, among which is the Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP).

Eight essentials of nursing excellence are evident in every culture of shared governance and show what keeps nurses working in professional practice environments:

  1. Working with clinically competent nurses—Staff nurses participate both in identifying their own competencies each year based on what's new, any changes, and any problematic or high risk areas in the practice environment, as well as in verifying how they meet those competencies.
  2. Good nurse-physician relationships—Mutual respect exists between nurses and physicians.
  3. Support for education—Advanced credentialing through facilitation and flexibility of work schedules and resources provided.
  4. Adequate nursing staffing—Participation in staffing schedules: engagement, involvement, and decision-making on the part of staff who are thinking beyond the unit to the organization as a whole.
  5. Concern for the patient is paramount—Doing what is needed for the staff first so they can focus all their energy, expertise, and experience on meeting the needs of the patients, which is the essence of staff-centered, patient-focused, relationship-based care.
  6. Nurse autonomy and accountability—Improving communication and delegation by bringing together partnership, equity, responsibility, authority, ownership, and accountability in shared decision-making in the professional practice environment.
  7. Supportive nurse manager/supervisor—The nurse manager or supervisor is the key retention person at the point of care. This role is critical to effective outcomes related to shared decision-making and implementation of a shared governance process model at the unit and organizational levels.
  8. Control over nursing practice and environment—In which shared decision-making leads to better patient outcomes and partnerships between patients and healthcare providers.

Shared governance pulls everything together and reshapes nursing practice to provide an environment of professional excellence that flows with the principles of the MRP. Through ongoing nursing research and evidence of best practices, nurses excel in decision-making at the point of service.

Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, APRN, BC

(April 2010)