Letter to the Editor by Harper on The Power of Professional Nursing Practice

Power to Influence Patient Care: Who Holds the Keys?

Response by Laura Flamini Harper to The Power of Professional Nursing Practice, by Reid Ponte et al. (January 31, 2007)
with Reply by Authors

Febryary 8, 2008

Dear Editor:

I really liked the January, 2007, article, "The Power of Professional Nursing Practice," in which the authors sought insights about power from leaders including "a clinical nurse specialist, nurse manager, vice president, program manager, nurse scientist, dean, chief retention officer, and a nurse faculty member." They sought this insight because they believed that "Understanding power and learning how to use it is critical if nurses' efforts to shape their practice and work environments are to be successful."

I'm wondering how in touch the above nurses are with the nurses at the bedside (with a possible exception of the retention specialist). The authors explain these leaders were sought out because they were perceived to have a certain amount of power within their organizations, and within the profession. My guess is that they were given this power by their organizations for reasons that may have benefited their organization more than the profession.

I'm wondering why no bedside nurses were asked? Why didn't they ask someone in the trenches, since the authors' goal is to empower all nurses to influence care? This article seems to me to be another example of leaders way off in the clouds, dictating to us how health care should be run, and being benevolent enough to hand us our power, instead of going from the ground up. Isn't that one of the problems with health care today?

Thank you for this thought-provoking article which did provide me with an opportunity to learn, 

Laura Flamini Harper, RN
Louisville, KY