As The Nerdy Nurse recently pointed out, the future of healthcare is changing and along with it, the roles and responsibilities of nurses. Now more than ever, it’s so important for nurses to band together and help each other weather the changing tide.

Not only does it make the collective stronger, but also it improves conditions for incoming nurses and for patients. Read Brittney’s thoughts on the importance of nurse empowerment:

Nurses have the ability to make a positive impact on the lives of the patients they serve and the nurses who will come after them more than ever. As costs are cut and more demands are being placed on the shoulders of nurses, it’s important that nurses feel empowered to advocate for their needs. Without doing this, many nurses will soon find that they are unable to deliver the level of patient care they see fit.

Since nurses are on the frontline of healthcare, we see more of the effects of budget cuts and regulatory requirements. Many leaders in healthcare in their Ivory Towers may think they “get” how all these changes affect patient care, but only the nurses at the bedside really see the full effects. They live and work it every day.

Unfortunately, many nurses believe that they have to take what they receive. They are so job-scared that instead of advocating for themselves, they often do not speak up when they are being expected to meet unrealistic expectations or when they are being treated poorly. They don’t realize that nurse empowerment leads to greater job satisfaction. And what many nurses don’t realize is that the choices they make can actually affect the work conditions and job requirements of future nurses. When a nurses chooses to act, or more often, not act, he/she causes a butterfly effect that will affect generations to come.

There’s no escaping the budget cuts that are associated with healthcare reform. They are coming and hospitals and other healthcare organizations are going to react. However, there is escaping the potential negative effects on the nursing profession.

If you’re being asked to care for patients in unsafe working conditions, care for too many patients at the same time, or simply are not being paid a wage you deserve: STAND UP for yourself and for NURSES EVERYWHERE.

Reach deep within yourself and gain the confidence to advocate for yourself and the nursing profession. This is critical now, more than ever. The actions that you and your fellow nurses make today will affect the future of nursing and healthcare as a whole.

This is where nurse empowerment comes in. We have got to make sure that nurses feel empowered to speak up when they see problems, feel mistreated or see others being mistreated. This starts with ourselves. Because if nurses aren’t empowered to speak up for themselves, then how are we going to be empowered to speak up for our patients?