Professional Governance

Professional governance has several key attributes, including responsibility, professional commitment, and collateral relationships and decision-making, each of which is pivotal to having autonomy in practice and the ability to achieve exemplary empirical outcomes1.

Three fundamental principles affirm and validate the presence of an effective and sustainable nursing professional governance structure and practices. The first principle is that the basis for professional governance is accountability of nurses who are practicing. This means nurses are obligated to show that on both an individual and collective level, they own and are personally connected to the nursing profession’s principles and practices2. Further, nursing decisions that are made are the right decisions, made by the right people, in the right place, at the right time, for the right purpose2.

Nurses define their profession, control their own work and have principal accountability for decisions and activities that effect and influence clinical nursing practice2.  The second principle of professional governance is that the structure is created around the professional accountability outlined in the first principle, as well as clinical decision making2. This means that an organization should provide an infrastructure that allows nurses to practice to the top of their license while maintaining scope, and obtaining or sustaining positive outcomes as a byproduct2.

The third principle of professional governance is that the structures put into place are reflective of decision-making not positions within the organization2. The four fundamental accountabilities that nursing should be responsible for are practice, quality, competence, and knowledge. Building a professional governance structure using an accountability framework for nursing practice inspires the responsibility and practice of nursing in a way that echoes both the obligations of ownership of the profession and the positive outcomes resulting from it.

In support of these principles, the OSF HealthCare Nursing Division has developed a professional governance framework that reflects a formalized structure that ensures alignment of work of councils at both the entity and Ministry levels with organizational and nursing strategic plans as well as the clinical agenda. Nursing utilizes the Magnet® standards of Transformational Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice and New Knowledge and Innovation to ensure alignment of work within the division of nursing and sustainment of a culture of nursing excellence.

Our Structure



1. Clavelle JT, Porter O’Grady T., Weston MJ, & Verran JA (2016). Evolution of structural empowerment: Moving from shared to professional governance. Journal of Nursing Administration, 46(6), 308-312.

2. Porter O’Grady T. (2019). Principles for sustaining shared/professional governance in nursing. Nursing Management, January 2019, 36-41. doi-10.1097/01.NUMA.0000550448.17375.