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What are the basic requirements of shared governance systems?

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There are four elements that are essential to the successful implementation of shared governance in the earliest stages of process development:

  1. A committed nurse executive must be invested in process empowerment and willing to undertake the efforts and energy necessary to implement shared governance.
  2. A strong management team in terms of commitment to one another, to nursing, to the organization, and to building the structure and implementing the process.
  3. The process cannot be implemented if employees do not have a basic understanding of shared governance and can build on that understanding with a working knowledge of what is to be accomplished. There must be a clear destination.
  4. The plan and timeline for implementation are critical for benchmarking and charting progress points.
 Guidelines for forming the governance bodies:
  • A decision-making group is empowered to make decisions that form a baseline for thinking organizationally when implementing shared governance.
  • Create an appropriate size group (seven to 10 participants and generally no more than 14 to 15) to facilitate effective group decision-making. It generally requires about seven people to represent the organization or service line (e.g., nursing) equitably. The presence of more than 15 participants reduces the group’s ability to reach decisions or consensus and move the agenda and work forward.
  • Decisional groups must be accountability-based.
  • Within the organization, all groups, committees, and task forces relate to governance bodies or councils.
  • Communication within and across all groups, committees, task forces/teams, and governing councils is critical to the success of implementation and ongoing operations of shared governance management process model.

-Diana Swihart, PhD, Dmin, MSN, CS, APRN, BC