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Power and the Empowerment of Nurses

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The concept of power in the nursing profession concerns the ability of a nursing professional to influence the progress of a recovering patient or a patient undergoing some therapeutic procedure. The essence of power entails the professional skill that the nurse possesses, and that enables the nurse to influence the recovery process of the patient positively. The concept also constitutes a psychological aspect of the professional nurse (Gentile, 2012). A nurse must feel that he or she has the required skills to steer a patient’s condition to a better state for him or her to have a complete influence over the patient’s progress. In this regard, power is established as an already acquired ability rather than an anticipated level of performance. Power in the nursing profession includes other people’s feelings and the profession’s perception. In addition, the nursing profession must be held in high regard by the concerned nurse, in order for the professional to consider that he or she is adequately equipped to deal with the profession’s challenges. Since the nursing profession has been the reserve of the female gender for a long time, the profession has suffered disempowerment that is associated with the oppression of the female gender (Gentile, 2012). Many nursing professionals have a significant influence over their subjects, but they hardly realize this power, since the subservience and subordination associated with the female gender gives them a feeling that the nursing profession is the reserve for weaker people (Chinn, 2010). The acceptance of male nurses as professional nursing attendants has hardly improved the status of the nursing profession. Another factor that influences the status of the nursing profession is the scope of its services. The patient, relatives, and the patient’s friends, witness the value of a nursing professional’s services. The people without health problems rarely experience the value of a nurse’s services. In this regard, they are likely to underestimate the nursing profession contribution to the health care system. Since the health facility is the major source of experience for nurses, the nursing profession is regarded as an apprenticeship, rather than an authoritative profession or discipline.

Contrary to the possessive nature of power, the concept of empowerment involves a process. In this regard, the ability to initiate the process of the realization of power is known as empowerment. The process involves the relationship between the concern of the nurse and the community that comprises the environment of the professional. The patients or the nurse’s subjects must have a suitable relationship between themselves and the nursing attendant to realize the empowerment of the nurse. Empowerment involves a psychological state that allows a nurse to act appropriately in whatever capacity he or she is serving. This indicates that the statutory authority of the nurse is inconsequential in a nurse’s empowerment process. Moving a nurse to a higher rank that indicates the possession of power may not help in realizing the professional’s real ability to act. However, shaping a nurse’s psychological state to reflect the importance of his or her work will significantly improve the nurse’s position in realizing power that enables the optimum performance in a suitable physical environment. In this essence, it is then established that empowerment is a necessary attempt, in order to realise the power or the ability to act.

In the process of empowerment, the professional nurse’s relationship with other professionals is a crucial determinant of the nurse’s attitude towards work (Gentile, 2012). Often, nurses are considered as subordinates to other medical personnel, since these personnel must supplement their duties, in order to realize the ultimate goal in nursing. The primary objective of a nurse is to give a support to a recuperating patient or the subject of a therapeutic procedure. In addition, nurses may be required to execute some procedures upon the recommendation of other medical professionals. Nurses spend a considerable amount of their working hours attending their subjects. In comparison to the medics’ proximity to a patient, nurses have a closer relationship with the patient. This relationship between the nurses and the patients falsely depicts them as the menial workers with little professional authority. The doctors and other medical professionals who work together with nurses have suffered indoctrination of archaic perspectives that insinuates that nurses are their subordinates. On the other hand, nurses have taken a wavering position, where they act according to the instructions of the seemingly senior medical practitioners (Gentile, 2012). There is the need to define the nursing profession as a distinct discipline that is independent of the guidance of other medical officers. Medics, particularly doctors, fail to realize that they are not trained nurses, and that they are not adequately equipped with the skills warranting them to become the professional instructors of nurses. Furthermore, nurses are supposed to be trained and nurtured to be independent of the influence of other medical practitioners in their field. In this regard, significant developments will be realized in the empowerment of the nursing profession.

The bedside nurses, the majority in the discipline, have a perspective that their work is the most basic, compared to the doctors’ work. However, these nurses fail to realize that the other medical practitioners, who are not nurses, are hardly equipped with the skill that they possess regarding the attendance to a patient. The professional nursing, which involves the provision of expert guidance on the matters related to nursing, is regarded highly compared to the bedside role of the nursing discipline. In this essence, bedside nurses suffer from powerlessness due to the lack of proper psychological mentoring and orientation. The government should institute policies and laws that recognize bedside nurses, as experts who offer services other professionals cannot offer (Newland, 2011). This will significantly uplift the bedside nurse’s esteem and confidence in the execution of his or her duties resulting into more efficiency and reliability of the nurses. The law should also protect the nursing professionals by defining their field of operation, which should not be invaded by the other professionals who work alongside nurses. The different professionals should coordinate their skills to supplement each other and realize the common goal of establishing a healthier population.

The other problem that significantly affects the empowerment of the nursing professionals is the reservation of the profession to the female gender. Moreover, the restriction of the discipline primarily to one gender is because of the natural gifting of the female gender in being tender and caring. It is impossible to change the current state, since it is a natural trait (Newland, 2011). As a result, the female gender is advantaged in the profession, leading to the misconception that the profession is reserved for the fairer gender, due to their incompetence in other medical fields. In fact, the strength of women in nursing has made them dominate the discipline. There is no speculation that this situation might change in the near future, as long as the male and the female genders exist in separate and distinct forms. If the nursing professionals realize that this is strength rather than a weakness, it will be a significant step towards the empowerment of nurses.

The empowerment of nurses may bring with it some negative aspects of power. The current coordination of activities in the medical profession is brought about by the relative subordination and the obedience of the nurses to the doctors and other medical practitioners. This kind of obedience ensures the complete execution of therapies that are prescribed by the medics. Giving independence to nursing as a separate entity may propagate arrogance and discord in the process of administering therapeutic procedures on patients (Newland, 2011). The unique nature of some therapeutic procedures administered to patients by doctors requires some level of dependence on the medics for the nurse to offer the best service. Thus, this necessitates the obedience by the nurses. Generally, a moderated regime of empowerment is necessary to enable nurses to offer the best services.

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