Should You Look for a Department with Shared Governance?


If you are looking for a new job in respiratory therapy, you probably have a long wish list of benefits you’d like to see in your next employer. One item that might not be on your list, though, is a shared governance program.

What is “shared governance” and how can it add value to your job in respiratory care? Matthew Pavlichko, MS, RRT, RRT-NPS, spoke on the concept at AARC Congress 2019 and he answers your questions here now —

First, will you define “shared governance” for our readers? 

Shared governance is a leadership philosophy and structure that empowers front-line teammates to make decisions that directly affect them, the department, and the care they provide to patients. Instead of administration — “the suits” — making decisions, the staff is provided a platform to make process and quality improvement changes that enhance their work, thus improving patient care.

In many places, this is a program that has been implemented for RNs. Why do you think it is also important for RTs to have a program like this in place? 

Respiratory therapists, like nurses, doctors, technicians, etc., spend the most time with our patients. Yet, our health care paradigm is that we have administrators providing direction on how we care for patients. This seems very backward. Shared governance in a respiratory department provides insight, problem identification, and solution implementation that can only come from the therapists themselves.

What advantages can RTs expect to gain by working in a department that has shared governance? 

Departments that have successful shared governance programs are empowered and engaged because everyone has a shared vision for improvement. Teams where everyone is “rowing in the same direction” are enjoyable to work with. This leads to positivity, less sick days, less turnover, and an overall sense of trust.

Should therapists who are currently seeking new employment specifically look for departments that have a shared governance program in place? Why or why not? 

Absolutely! If you like autonomy, to be trusted, work in a collegial department, and have the opportunity to grow, then the presence of shared governance definitely needs to be on your “must have” list.

Are all shared governance programs created equal — and if not, what should job seekers be specifically asking during interviews to find out if the shared governance program in question is right for them? 

Shared governance committees must be empowered, inclusive, and diverse. Job seekers should ask about structure and the process to get involved. They should also ask what successful shared governance projects have been implemented. The scope and complexity of the projects gives excellent insight into the culture of the department and the trust shared governance has created.

As Matthew Pavlichko has just explained, shared governance is a program that empowers bedside clinicians. Departments that have bought into the concept are those that understand and recognize the importance of these clinicians in the overall care of patients and health of the organization.

Finding a department with that mindset would bode well for any RT.

Heading to the New Era

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