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Readiness and Barriers to Change in Nursing


Just like in any other field, the implementation of change in nursing designed to facilitate an organizational improvement may result in a disruption of operations and confusion of the staff. That is why the planning and implementation of organizational change are to be carefully planned before putting into practice.

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Types of Change

Organizational change is driven by the changes in the industries and professional environments of the institutions and implemented for a purpose of maximizing the results and productivity of the company and the improvement of the results and services (Jones, 2012). Attempting to fulfill their missions in more successful ways, healthcare organizations may implement change according to two different approaches. The first approach to change is revolutionary; it is characterized by radical shifts in policies, operations, and structures; such change happens rapidly and is caused by the external factor such as increased competition, or a change in the market (Jones, 2012). The second approach is evolutionary; it is much more gradual and occurs at a slower pace, also, compared to the revolutionary change that affects all aspects of an organization, evolutionary one may cover just one sphere (Jones, 2012).

Organizational Readiness

Weiner (2009) emphasizes that for the change to go successfully and result in the anticipated benefits, an organization is to be ready for its implementation. Readiness for change can be created. Weiner (2009) points out that the organizational readiness for change is based on the individual readiness of the staff members. This is the case because any change in the organizational policies, strategies, structures, or plans is put into practice using the change in the behaviors of the employees. That way, if the staff is not ready, not willing, or unable to change its patterns, the expected organizational transformation would not happen or would fail. There are multiple ways of preparing the organization for the change, and most of them are related to the psychology of the employees (Weiner, 2009).

First of all, getting ready to implement new approaches, the leaders and the managers are to build contact with the staff and provide communication and explanation of their intentions, objectives, desired outcomes, and the benefits they would bring to the organization and everyone involved. Also, it is important to assess the level of readiness in small groups, units, and departments because change is a collective action. At this stage, the leaders must inspire the staff to change and to ensure that their shared beliefs agree with the transformation and their ability to accomplish it (Weiner, 2009). Apart from confidence, the employees are to commit to change. That way, motivation is another important element of the successful preparation of the organization for the change. Its level may be influenced by the help of various theories of motivation and needs (Weiner, 2009).

Barriers to Change

Knowing the factors that contribute to the readiness for change, it is easy to identify the determinants of its barriers. Logically, the aspects that can prevent the successful implementation of the organizational change are the lack of motivation and acceptance of the transformations by the employees (NSH, 2007). In addition to the psychological barriers, there are practical ones such as the absence of knowledge, abilities, and skills required for the change (NHS, 2007). The barriers of this kind often occur in organizations that implement change based on the adoption of new technologies and software. Faced with unfamiliar equipment and programs, the employees are unable to proceed with the change. In such situations, the organizational leaders often have to invest in coaching and training sessions for the workers to develop new skills. Another type of practical barriers involved the resources an organization requires for the successful implementation of change; these may be capitals, premises, equipment, and people (NHS, 2007).


Change may be implemented based on a variety of theories specifically developed to help the managers organize and plan this process. In nursing, change must follow the best practices and evidence-based experiences (Mitchell, 2013). Besides, the field of nursing is one of the fastest developing spheres of knowledge, and that is why enforcing and facilitating ongoing change is the duty of the nursing leaders and staff members. Finally, the managers are another group of active participants in the transformation process. That is why they need to be familiar with various leadership styles applicable in different environments and under specific circumstances.

For the change to move on smoothly and without issues, the leaders are recommended to make sure that several primary attributes are in place; they are authorized (the leader who is not popular or respected by the followers is likely to have less success), clarity of tasks (the employees are to be well aware of their functions, terms, and duties for the change to develop as planned), promotion of positive behavior (autocratic leadership styles that work through fear and pressure promote negative behaviors), awareness of the price (the managers and leaders are to know what it costs for the employees to fulfill their duties and what rewards are to be assigned) (Mitchell, 2013).

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Organizational change is frequent in a field of nursing due to its fast development. This process is very complex and involves several stages. Besides, the organization and its workers and leaders are to be prepared to participate in the implementation of change. The executives in charge of planning and implementation of change are to consider the roles of each unit and level of management, required investments, efforts, rewards, and the style of interaction with the employees.


Jones, S. (2012). Change management: A classic theory revisited. Nursing Review. Web.

Mitchell, G. (2013). Selecting the best theory to implement planned change. Nursing management, 20(1), 32-37. Web.

NHS. (2007). How to change practice. Web.

Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). Web.

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