At the moment, the sphere of healthcare in the United States is being subjected to significant challenges associated with changes in health care policies as well as the increase in patients’ demands for quality services. In such a volatile environment, there is a problem of underserved populations not receiving the care they need due to the gaps in healthcare access and the lack of resources such populations have to address their health problems. For facilities such as the St. Louis Medical Center (SLMC), it is essential to implement effective models of shared governance to make sure that underserved populations receive the care they need. In this paper, several elements of the shared governance model will be outlined (transformational leadership, staff empowerment, and interdisciplinary approach) for addressing the problem of unequal access to health care services.
Shared governance is defined as a model of professional practice, which is based on ideas of equity, ownership, accountability, and partnership for the purpose of developing a sustainable framework that could facilitate the reaching of excellent care (Vanderbilt University, 2018). Within the framework of shared governance targeted at providing care to underserved populations, transformational leadership, staff empowerment, and interdisciplinary approach have been identified as key concepts. In nursing, transformational leadership refers to a type of adaptational leadership that creates an environment where healthcare professionals share their responsibilities as well as contribute to new ways of learning and sharing information. Staff empowerment is an essential component of the shared governance model because it implies giving healthcare professionals roles and responsibilities to capture their potential and making them irreplaceable decision-makers; empowerment is closely linked to leadership because the latter will allow for the distribution of significant governance decisions. Lastly, an interdisciplinary approach is a concept that implies the application of knowledge from several disciplines to facilitate collaboration among healthcare professionals for making informed decisions in a particular situation.
Model’s Value and Importance
The proposed shared governance model is expected to target the care of vulnerable patients who lack resources to address their needs when being accepted to SLMC. Despite the fact that the model is patient-oriented, it will also benefit the staff that will be encouraged to collaborate among themselves and involve valuable decision-makers such as local community health organizations to provide monetary support to patients in need. Moreover, the model will be closely associated with empowering nurses to educate patients on effective self-care practices to reduce the need for them to contact healthcare providers. It has been identified that vulnerable groups face a variety of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from poverty or domestic abuse to health problems such as HIV (Kassanjee et al., 2017). Due to the variability of challenges that such populations face, the interdisciplinary approach has been proposed to facilitate collaboration between nursing specialists and cater to the care for such patients to their specific needs and demands.
If to provide an example of how a shared governance model can address the needs of vulnerable populations, it is important to mention the research conducted by Lee et al. (2013) who have developed such prevention efforts as finding community partners, facilitating collaboration between healthcare professionals and partners, and establishing effective patterns of partnership that creates “scientifically rigorous and culturally appropriate” methods for serving vulnerable populations and addressing their health problems (p. 99). The findings of the research suggested that there was a need for overcoming cultural, social, and economic barriers to health care among vulnerable populations. Through the implementation of a shared governance model, healthcare professionals were able to assess risks of health problems among the identified populations as well as were effective in providing patients with an appropriate level of education to facilitate their awareness and to combine scientific evidence with community acceptability of effective self-care practices. The proposed model that will combine three strategies is expected to change the organizational structure at SLMC because it will transform the way nurses interact. Applying transformational leadership models can enhance the engagement of professionals and improve their attitudes toward providing care to vulnerable populations. Nurses’ empowerment is expected to increase the engagement of professionals and encourage them to educate patients (Chen, Mullins, Novak, & Thomas, 2016). The interdisciplinary practice is an essential component for transforming nurses’ interactions since it will encourage the exchange of knowledge for improving patient outcomes.
Summary and Conclusions
It has been proposed to use a shared governance model at SLMC for solving the issue of poor quality care and gaps in access to care among vulnerable populations. Transformational leadership, employee empowerment, and an interdisciplinary approach are three key strategies to facilitate the sharing of governance among nursing professionals as well as facilitate patient education for better health outcomes. Nurse executives at SLMC should engage in the development of a cohesive shared governance model that would combine the identified three concepts targeted at improving the health outcomes of patients that belong to vulnerable populations. It is important to mention that the proposed framework could be applied to a variety of health issues that SLMC faces on a daily basis due to the model’s versatility.
Chen, J., Mullins, C. D., Novak, P., & Thomas, S. B. (2016). Personalized strategies to activate and empower patients in health care and reduce health disparities. Health Education & Behavior: The Official Publication of the Society for Public Health Education, 43(1), 25-34.
Kassanjee, R., De Angelis, D., Farah, M., Hanson, D., Labuschagne, J. P. L., Laeyendecker, O., … Welte, A. (2017). Cross-Sectional HIV incidence surveillance: A benchmarking of approaches for estimating the “mean duration of recent infection.” Statistical Communications in Infectious Diseases, 9(1), 1-5.
Lee, E. C., Simon, E. P., Nickerson, J., Brenner, B., Talavera, S., Goytia, C., … Horowitz, C. R. (2013). Shared governance in building community capacity: A case study of sleep apnea. International Public Health Journal, 5(1), 99-104.
Vanderbilt University. (2018). Shared governance. Web.