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Organisational empowerment and assertive communication behaviours: a survey of Jordanian newly qualified nurses

02 April 2020
15 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 7

Abstract

Background:

Newly qualified nurses (NQNs) face several challenges in their early years of practice. Being empowered and able to speak up against unsafe practice are two important pillars for practising nursing safely and competently. Little research has examined the potential correlation between those two dimensions in the context of NQNs in Jordan.

Aims:

To investigate the correlation between NQNs' perceived structural empowerment in their work setting and their willingness to challenge unsafe practice in some hypothetical clinical scenarios.

Methods:

A cross-sectional survey involved 233 NQNs, who completed a self-administered questionnaire between January and March 2016.

Findings:

Participants reported moderate levels of both perceived structural empowerment and willingness to speak up against unsafe practice. There was a statistically significant positive correlation between the total structural empowerment score and the mean score for speaking up against unsafe practice.

Conclusion:

The findings highlight the impact of peer, managerial and overall organisational support on enabling NQNs to become more empowered and assertive. Concrete, collaborative and organisation-wide efforts must be considered to foster greater empowerment of NQNs, but also revisiting work priorities to include supporting and advocating assertive communication skills among the more vulnerable of the newly qualified cohort.

After graduation, newly qualified nurses (NQNs) are expected to have an adequate skills set to ensure competency and safe nursing practice, including feeling sufficiently empowered and able to speak up against unsafe practice. The transition process from student to fully registered nurse has been described as stressful and challenging (Kaihlanen et al, 2013; Laschinger et al, 2016), and NQNs feeling unprepared, unsupported and disempowered (Laschinger et al, 2010; Gardiner and Sheen, 2016).

Empowerment is the process of controlling and sharing power with others, which encourages individuals to participate in decision-making and taking actions within the work environment (Tomey, 2004). Researchers have used empowerment theories to explain the complex factors that shape human empowerment behaviour. For example, Kanter's (1993) theory of structural empowerment centres on the organisation rather than the individual employee. It postulates that established organisational norms and customs/support, such as the opportunity for personal and professional growth, and access to resources and information, are instrumental in shaping staff empowerment. Kanter identified the following areas of access:

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