Building to Make a Difference: Advanced Practice Nurses' Experience of Power

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Abstract

Power is necessary for nurses to affect change in patient care and to move the nursing profession forward. Despite the evolving body of nursing research on power, there have been no studies that have investigated the nature of advanced practice nurses' (APNs') power. The purpose of this study was to explore the APNs' lived experience of power. Interpretive phenomenology guided the method and analysis. Eight APNs employed in a single Canadian tertiary care teaching health-care organization engaged in in-depth interviews. The overarching theme, building to make a difference, reflected the APNs' perception of power in their practice, which involved a passion to facilitate change in practice to improve patient care. Building to make a difference involved three themes: building on, building with, and building for. The APNs experienced more power—a process they described as power creep—when they used soft power that was shared with others to affect positive change in health care. These findings contribute to our understanding of how power is perceived and manifested in the APN role, thus further enabling organizations to create working conditions to support the APNs' endeavors to empower others.

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