Nursing: The Feeling of Powerlessness

The feeling of powerlessness among nurses has been documented in various studies. This trend prioritizes the need to empower nurses. The nurses working under Nancy express their feeling of powerlessness through resignation. Nurses who feel powerless experience dissatisfaction and depersonalization.

Retaining nurses entails improving the working conditions that are relevant to nursing practice. This improvement also serves as an attraction for new nurses who would be interested in joining Nancy’s team. As a leader, Nancy needs to be at the forefront of propagating empowering behaviors in the work environment. Empowering nurses revolves around three aspects; the nurses’ perception of empowerment, the workplace environment, and acknowledgment of powerlessness.

Powerlessness among the unit’s nurses may refer to several factors. The nurses need to have a sense of power for them to be able to carry out their duties effectively. The feeling of powerlessness hampers the nurses’ ability to influence and interact with fellow nurses, patients, and other health care providers.

The feeling of powerlessness can be caused by several factors that are relevant to the nursing unit. Being overworked can make the nurses feel powerless. When nurses are overworked, they feel like they have no power to control their schedules and inputs (Chandler, 2002). The feeling may also be caused by a lack of job security for the nurses at Nancy’s unit.

Unlike other health practitioners, nurses’ jobs are not always guaranteed. In addition, several nurses are forced to work on a contract basis. The other factor that causes the feeling of powerlessness among nurses is stress. If the nurses are constantly under stress, they are more likely to feel powerless. Any of the factors listed above can cause a feeling of powerlessness. It is up to Nancy to point out the more likely causes.

The leader of a nurses’ unit can counter the effects of powerlessness by providing the nurses with sources of power. These sources of power should help nurses overcome helplessness from three angles. The nurses should overcome the lack of control over the content, context, and competence levels of their practice. The power over the content of the nursing practice can be achieved through professional autonomy. This would grant nurses control over their practice.

This would mean that nurses act according to what they know as opposed to acting according to what is stipulated. Another source of power can be achieved by giving nurses control over the context of the nursing practice.

In the hospital environment, nurses are barely involved in the running of affairs. Hospitals that allow nurses to be “meaningfully involved in the running of hospitals” can attract and retain nurses easily (Rafael, 2006). Entering the nursing profession requires a lower level of entry requirements as compared to the other health care professions.

This factor might contribute to the feeling of helplessness among nurses. Systems of an organization that promote nurses’ professional skills might give nurses power. When the nursing profession is organized systematically, it allows nurses to carry out their duties with pride. This may also attract and retain the current sophisticated crop of nursing practitioners.

Nancy can encourage the staff to become more empowered by employing the theories of empowerment. These theories include the theory of structural empowerment and the theory of psychological empowerment. Using the structural employment theory, Nancy can ensure the nurses have a chance to advance in their careers or get involved in activities that are considered to be beyond their nursing scope.

In addition, she should ensure that the nurses have access to the relevant types of information and resources around the hospital. Using the theory of psychological empowerment, Nancy can encourage the nurses to do what they feel is necessary for getting their jobs done.

Decision-Making Councils

The main purpose of decision-making councils is to share the decision-making process. As the leader of the nurses, Nancy needs to take up the responsibility of representing her unit’s nurses. This will mean that their views will be fairly represented at the decision-making council. This opportunity is not availed in many hospitals and Nancy needs to take full advantage and ensure that the nurses’ views are heard before the decision-making committee.

This will empower nurses and improve their efficiency. Before attending the council meeting, Nancy should hold a nurse’s meeting to address all the issues concerning both the 12-hour shift and the previous 8-hour shift.

Shifts that last more than eight hours are synonymous with burnouts and job dissatisfaction. Studies have shown that nurses who work for more than 10 hours are more susceptible to errors and inefficiency. The problem is more profound in hospitals where there is understaffing. Most hospitals shun 8-hour shifts because of their expensive nature. Hospitals with a small workload are particularly insistent about sticking to shifts that are longer than eight hours.

Shifts that last more than thirteen hours can have adverse effects even on the nurses’ health. Nancy’s attendance in the decision-making council should serve as an encouragement to the nurses. The model empowers the nurses and allows them to form a strong network that strengthens their voices. As a dynamic leader, Nancy should promote this mode of operation.


Chandler, G. E. (2002). The source and process of empowerment. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 16(3), 65-71.

Rafael, A. R. (2006). Power and caring: A dialectic in nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 19(1), 3-17.

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NursingBird. "Nursing: The Feeling of Powerlessness." May 5, 2022.