Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Karen Butler

Clinical Mentor

Dr. Tanna McKinney

Committee Member

Dr. Judi Godsey

Committee Member

Dr. Karen Stefaniak



Background: Professional governance is a model in healthcare systems where nurses are involved by participating in decisions that lead their practice. Participation in professional governance has been shown to improve nursing practice, employee satisfaction, nursing autonomy, and patient outcomes.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate nurses’ perceptions of empowerment when front-line nurses are involved with their nurse managers in the design and structure of an inpatient state psychiatric hospital’s professional governance program.

Conceptual Framework: Kanter’s theory of empowerment will guide this project. As individuals feel more empowered, the success of the organization increases. Kanter suggests that with the proper tools, information and support, people’s skill base improves, allowing them to make more informed decisions, ultimately benefiting the organization and patient care.

Methodology: This study utilizes a descriptive, quasi-experimental pre-and post-test design to examine the benefits of co-creating a professional governance model with nurse managers and front-line nurses at an inpatient psychiatric hospital located in the southeastern United States. The Psychological Empowerment Instrument was used to determine if overall empowerment scores increased after participation in the design of the professional governance program.

Results: A total of 28 participants completed the pre-survey and 24 completed the post-survey. The mean score increased for all 12 questions of the Psychological Empowerment Instrument. Three questions did show statistical significance in the areas of meaning and competence. The remaining 6 questions did not show statistical significance in empowerment.

Discussion: Results of this study show that nurses at the hospital show prominent levels of empowerment when discussing their competence and skill in their work and in finding meaning in their work. They show lower empowerment when discussing self-determination and the impact of their work. The mean score of every empowerment question increased from presurvey to postsurvey revealing that when nurses have an opportunity to be heard, they feel more empowered in all four areas of empowerment: meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact.

Conclusion: Although the findings of this study were limited by a short participation time and changes in staffing, there is evidence to support that front-line nurses do show a positive increase in their perceptions of empowerment when they are involved in the design of the hospital’s professional governance program and are able to offer their voice in decisions. These findings are clinically significant and consistent with literature showing improved nursing engagement and patient outcomes with successful professional governance programs. Further research is needed after the continuation of the professional governance program over time along with further investigation into nurses’ perceptions of nursing leadership.