It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. They need to be a balance between smart, hard-working and nurturing.

For too long, and some would argue this still exists today, there was a misconception that nurses are simply just assistants to doctors and have little medical knowledge themselves – however, this is simply not the case.

Nurses are not assistants or glorified doctors handmaidens. Nurses have to train for years at university, and though they work alongside doctors in most instances they do not work for doctors.

Many nurses feel like there is a lack of autonomy in their work, and are unable to speak up about certain issues that occur.

However, when you look at many aged care facilities, you will see that it is a nurse that is in charge.

While working in aged care or any clinical setting, nurses can often work autonomously to provide care and make clinical decisions regarding the treatment of residents or their patients, especially those that have more complex conditions.

Nurses are leaders in their own right, but there is more that can be done to empower them.

The first place you can empower nurses is at the very start – during their education. While nurses get taught all the clinical knowledge they need, they often receive no training in leadership skills.

If leadership was taught to nurses in a similar fashion to the rest of their education, then it would be instilled as some of the core values in their nursing abilities.

Empowerment while on the job is also crucial – without it, it can lead to job dissatisfaction, stress, and burnout. All of which can be prevented.

Nurses should feel empowered, but are clearly not – a 2011 study found that nurses in in an acute care hospital setting did not feel fully empowered.

Another study published in 2014 in the Journal of Nursing Administration, ranked that there was “only moderate levels of empowerment” among 140 clinical nurse managers at one large healthcare facility.

Another option that many workplaces can adopt is offering opportunities for leadership development.

It is suggested that leadership skills can be learned through effective training programs at work. There are a number of benefits, including personal growth, career satisfaction and advancement, and opportunities to build a stronger, more united workforce.

Empowered nurses, and those with a strong sense of leadership, are more likely to take charge on change and improvements.

They are the ones who are most likely to speak up against policies and act proactively in the best interests of their patients and residents.

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