Night Shift Nurses Get a Seat at the Table

Hospital’s new shared governance council meets at night

Shared governance — a hallmark of top nursing programs — is more valuable with more contributors. The more voices involved in decision-making, the more diverse and creative the insights, and the more empowered, satisfied and high-performing the nurses.

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So, how do medical centers draw more engagement from staff nurses? Schedule nurse council meetings during nurses’ work hours, for one.

An alternative to daytime meetings

Night shift staff at Cleveland Clinic Akron General were underrepresented on shared governance councils held during the day, says critical care nurse Joni Papez, BSN, RN. But a national Magnet conference inspired Papez and her nursing colleagues to get more night shift nurses a seat at the table.

Supported by Akron General’s nursing leadership, Papez and others convened their first night shift council meeting in January 2017.

Held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, the meetings are open to all night shift nurses — and led by night shift nurses. So far, approximately 10 to 12 nurses, representing about 40 percent of the hospital’s 23 nursing departments, have attended each meeting.

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Just like other nursing councils, meetings involve discussing and planning quality improvements, clarifying policies and education.

“Usually there is rounding afterwards to educate on specific topics,” says Melanie Morris, MBA, BSN, RN-BC, CCRN-K, Off-Shift Nursing Professional Development Specialist. “‘Quiet at Night’ issues are our current focus.”

Improving nurse satisfaction and engagement

At the first meeting, nurses brainstormed goals for their new council and listed work issues that needed to be addressed. They established a charter and strategic plan, based on Magnet standards. They elected fellow nurses as council chair, co-chair and secretary.

The chair, co-chair and a nursing leader facilitator direct each monthly meeting.

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“We’ve already seen an increase in night shift engagement and shared governance,” says Papez, the council’s first elected chair. “Enthusiasm in our clinical nurse excellence program is increasing as well, and we are actively developing resources for our first project, to strengthen our ‘Quiet at Night’ HCAHPS scores.”

Her long-term goals? Increase nurses’ involvement in the council and attendance at meetings, of course. But the ultimate goal is to increase night shift nurses’ job satisfaction. The council currently is preparing to use nurse satisfaction data to gauge its impact on:

  • Autonomy
  • Professional development
  • Leadership access and responsiveness
  • Interprofessional relationships
  • Fundamentals of quality nursing care
  • Adequacy of resources and staffing
  • RN-to-RN teamwork and collaboration

“The creation of a night shift council could be used in any hospital where night shift is underrepresented in order to improve off-shift nurse satisfaction and engagement,” says Papez.