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Faces of Shared Governance: Speaking for You

Sue Matthews, BSN, RN-C, CRNI - Professional Practice Council Chair

Sue wanted to push beyond her "comfort zone” and to continue to grow as a nurse.

Being on the Shared Governance Council gives her a chance to do both. As a co-chair, Sue advocates for coworkers.

For example, nurses in her unit had to walk some distance to access medications. Not anymore. A simple change by leadership saves nurses countless steps a day.

“The culture created by shared governance is that of open and honest communication,” Matthews said. “No judging. Listen to coworkers – allow them their opinions and always be respectful.”

Even better, the council helps patients too. “We are also the voice of the patient,” she said.

“If we don’t speak up, who will?”


Charlene Pickering, RN - Professional Practice Council co-chair

Charlene said the council was “just an idea” when she was asked to join. Now it’s in a growth stage: 

“It will take approximately two years before we are up and running at 100 percent,” she explained. “This is all new to us.”

But shared governance is already getting results. Charlene said her team travels to all campuses in the Omaha metro except one, and there were questions about hourly rounding.

Using input from nurses across the system, the protocol was changed. “They decided to not utilize that (original) tool and use something within Epic.”

She said shared governance “absolutely” gives nurses a true voice.


Andrea Bakenhus, RN - Evidence-Based Practice Council Chair

Andrea agreed with Charlene that hourly rounding wasn’t working.

“The nurses across the region all had the same issues with the technology and workflow of this,” she said. “We had other ideas how we could chart our hourly rounding.”

One of the “other” ideas suggested by nurses was adopted.

“This was a positive change for the direct nursing staff,” she said. “Our voice was heard and our practice around charting hourly rounding was changed.”

Coming up with solutions to problems is part of the process.

“A general rule we have is not to bring an issue unless we have three ideas of how to solve it,” she said.


Katelyn Nutting, RN - Evidence-Based Practice Council co-chair

Katelyn said it’s only a year old, but she can already see the impact the council and direct care nurses have on patient care.

“There is a strong team of nurses representing nurses across the division to support and promote best nursing practice.”

Typical of issues that are brought up, she said, is the protocol for patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal.

Nurses’ lack of information to fully understand the “why” for the protocol led to disparities in nursing care.

That’s why her subcouncil is creating a toolkit to help nurses better understand the protocol and create standard education across the system.


Renae Olson, BSN, RN-BC, CRNI, VA-BC - Retention, Recruitment & Recognition Council chair

Renae has already seen the importance of nursing shared governance because, “nurses have great ideas for improving patient care and increasing nurse satisfaction,” she said.

A “really hot topic” right now, she said, is recruitment and retention. So, her group is working on a Professional Nurse Achievement Pathway to promote professional development as well as ways to cultivate the next generation of nurses.

“I want nurses at CHI Health to understand that they are a powerful force. The representatives from each campus do speak up for them at the system nursing shared governance and our leaders are listening. We can work together to make positive changes.”


Meghann Kowalski, RN - Retention, Recruitment & Recognition Council co-chair

To Meghann, shared governance paves the way for “nurses’ voices to be heard as one throughout the CHI Health system.”

Although still in the “infant” stage, the council is growing every month, she said. And a new communication tool will give nurses an opportunity to bring up concerns more easily.

“Shared governance has brought all entities together in a way that has never been done before,” she said. “It has opened my eyes to see the nurses within our organization as one amazing group of individuals who all have our patients’ best interest at heart – no matter our location.