Power and empowerment are important intertwining issues in nursing. Nurses need empowerment for them to be effective in discharging their duties in the workplace. This is because their work involves daily interaction with physicians, patients and other healthcare professionals. Patients also need empowerment for them to self-manage their health. There are various approaches to power and they include critical social theory, organizational, management theories, and social psychological theories.
Critical social theory suggests that the group that has control possess more power than the oppressed group. This means that for the oppressed group to have the power, they must struggle to liberate themselves. This approach argues that nurses are the oppressed and that they seek freedom and liberation through frequent bullying at the workplace and violence. There is also evidence of disrespect among the nursing students as they struggle to have freedom.
The organizational and management theory concerns itself with distribution of power from top to bottom. For nurses to gain power they need to have opportunities for advancement, have support, access to information and have access to resources of the organization. In this approach, empowerment occurs when nurses are provided with the opportunity to accomplish tasks in a successful way.
Social psychological theory, empowerment comes from development and personal growth. Psychological approach to power focuses on the individual (Bradbury-Jones et al., 2008). Empowerment arises on the individual when they have the right attitude, values and beliefs. This improves the self-esteem of the nurse and is able to accomplish tasks with courage, integrity and tenacity.
The post structuralism approach focuses on power as something that touches all the individuals in the organization. Power allows the creation of new ways of doing things meaning it is very productive. Empowerment in this approach requires nurses to identify practices that can empower them and their patients. Study of power in this approach should happen from bottom to the top. Nursing need empowerment to empower patients and it is important that nurses have power in them.
Bradbury‐Jones, C., Sambrook, S., & Irvine, F. (2008). Power and empowerment in nursing: a fourth theoretical approach. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(2), 258-266.