Exploring how nurses and managers perceive shared governance

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Nurse managers have a pivotal role in the success of unit-based councils, which include direct care nurses. These councils establish shared governance to provide innovative, quality-based, and cost-effective nursing care.


This study explored differences between direct care nurses' and nurse managers' perceptions of factors affecting direct care nurses' participation in unit-based and general shared governance activities and nurse engagement.


In a survey research study, 425 direct care RNs and nurse managers were asked to complete a 26-item research survey addressing 16 shared governance factors; 144 participated (response rate = 33.8%).


Most nurse participants provided direct care (N = 129, 89.6%; nurse managers = 15, 10.4%), were older than 35 (75.6%), had more than 5 years of experience (76.4%), and worked more than 35 hours per week (72.9%). Direct care nurses' and managers' perceptions showed a few significant differences. Factors ranked as very important by direct care nurses and managers included direct care nurses perceiving support from unit manager to participate in shared governance activities (84.0%); unit nurses working as a team (79.0%); direct care nurses participating in shared governance activities won't disrupt patient care (76.9%); and direct care nurses will be paid for participating beyond scheduled shifts (71.3%). Overall, 79.2% had some level of engagement in shared governance activities. Managers reported more engagement than direct care nurses.


Nurse managers and unit-based councils should evaluate nurses' perceptions of manager support, teamwork, lack of disruption to patient care, and payment for participation in shared governance-related activities. These research findings can be used to evaluate hospital practices for direct care nurse participation in unit-based shared governance activities.

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