When Athens (GA) Regional Medical Center (ARMC) implemented shared governance five years ago, the initial drive of the program was met with different levels of success. Unit councils excelled in some areas and struggled in others, leading to inconsistent results.
The organization decided it was time to change that-and it pursued clear data to back up its decision-making process.
"We saw varying success, especially in our unit councils," says Nancy Arata, RN, BSN, MBA, from the ARMC Office of Professional Excellence. "We wanted to be able to determine if there were particular factors that influenced our success."
Based solely on gut reaction to existing success rates, ARMC's nursing leadership could see that some unit councils were outperforming others, with great results and projects coming out of the units. One of those great results: higher nursing satisfaction scores.
"Our question was, 'Could having a productive unit-based council correlate with high nurse satisfaction? Are you going to have happier nurses in units where nurses are making decisions?' " says Arata. The leadership team decided to look for evidence proving or disproving the theory-and that meant conducting a research study.
Looking for evidence
The team developed a survey and distributed it to the unit-based council members and chairs. The 11-question anonymous survey included an area where respondents were asked to list specific decisions made from the previous year.
The survey also looked at how long the council had been in existence, whether it had an elected chair, how involved the director of the unit was in the council, and whether he or she acted as a mentor.
"When we asked them to give a number of decisions they had made in their unit council, the results were really interesting," says Arata. "Some units couldn't come up with a number or list out the decisions that had been made. But others could be very specific about these things."
Based on these results, the researchers scored each unit. The scores were then correlated with nurse satisfaction survey results.
"We saw a correlation between the number of decisions the unit council had made and nurse satisfaction-it confirmed what our gut feeling was telling us," says Arata.