two nurses in conversation with executive

Empowering Nurses: The Empowerment Dynamic Enhances Patient Care and Workplace Relationships

Introduction: Embracing the Empowerment Dynamic in Nursing

Nursing is a challenging profession that often exposes practitioners to demanding situations and emotional stress. The traditional Drama Triangle, with its victim, persecutor, and rescuer roles, can create disempowerment and burnout, negatively affecting both patient care and workplace relationships. The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) offers an alternative approach to empowering nurses that enables nurses to shift from a victim mindset to a creator mindset, fostering personal growth, professional development, and healthier relationships. In this blog post, we will explore TED and provide practical tips for incorporating it into nursing practice.

Understanding the Drama Triangle and Its Impact on Empowering Nurses

The Drama Triangle, developed by Stephen Karpman in 1968, is a psychological model that describes three dysfunctional roles people tend to assume in relationships: the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer. In a healthcare setting, these roles may manifest in various ways, such as patients feeling powerless, nurses feeling overwhelmed, or colleagues blaming one another.

In my work I often see the victim role in “us vs. them” situations. For example, nurses vs. physicians, nurses vs. administration, or one department or shift vs. another department or shift. This type of adversarial thinking can actually create safety issues in addition to job dissatisfaction.

Unfortunately, the Drama Triangle perpetuates disempowerment, creating an unhealthy environment that negatively impacts patient care and nurses’ well-being. By recognizing the Drama Triangle and its consequences, nurses can begin to break free from its grasp and transition to a more empowering mindset.

nurse putting on N95 mask

Shifting to the Empowerment Dynamic (TED) in Nursing

The Empowerment Dynamic, developed by David Emerald, provides a positive alternative to the Drama Triangle. TED comprises three roles: the creator, the challenger, and the coach. By adopting these roles, nurses can develop a more empowering mindset, improve patient care, and foster healthier workplace relationships. This is an essential practice in empowering nurses and flourishing.

Creator: As creators, nurses focus on their own abilities and resources, taking responsibility for their actions and choices. They actively seek solutions and opportunities for growth.

Challenger: Challengers confront situations or beliefs that may be limiting or detrimental. In nursing, this role encourages colleagues to question assumptions and seek better practices, promoting continuous improvement.

Coach: The coach role involves providing guidance and support to others, enabling them to find their own solutions and grow. Nurses who act as coaches foster an environment of learning and collaboration.

This dynamic is right in line with High Reliability Organization (HRO) behaviors and patient/staff safety. It also fosters well-being and flourishing for all involved.

Strategies to Break Free from the Drama Triangle

Recognizing and dismantling the Drama Triangle is an essential step towards empowering nurses and embracing the Empowerment Dynamic. Here are some practical strategies for nurses:

Self-awareness: Regularly reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and actions to identify when you’re slipping into a Drama Triangle role. Acknowledge these patterns and remind yourself of the Empowerment Dynamic roles as healthier alternatives.

Constructive communication: Avoid blaming or criticizing others, and instead focus on expressing your feelings and needs. Use “I” statements and active listening to create an open, non-judgmental atmosphere.

Set boundaries: Establish clear expectations and limits with patients, colleagues, and yourself. This helps prevent rescuer behavior and encourages personal responsibility.

Techniques for Incorporating the Empowerment Dynamic into Nursing Practice

Incorporating the Empowerment Dynamic into daily nursing practice requires conscious effort and practice. Here are some techniques for embracing the creator, challenger, and coach roles:

Enhancing patient care: Foster a creator mindset by taking responsibility for your actions and seeking opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Be proactive in identifying potential problems and finding solutions to enhance patient care.

Building supportive relationships with colleagues: Act as a coach by offering guidance, support, and encouragement to your fellow nurses. When appropriate, take on the challenger role by constructively questioning assumptions and promoting best practices.

Cultivating a positive work environment: Encourage open communication, collaboration, and continuous learning within your nursing team. Share your experiences with the Empowerment Dynamic and inspire others to adopt this mindset.

The Transformative Power of the Empowerment Dynamic

Many nurses have experienced the transformative power of the Empowerment Dynamic in their professional and personal lives.

Susan, an oncology nurse, shifted from a victim mindset to a creator mindset by taking control of her emotions and focusing on what she could do to improve her patients’ experiences. As a result, she noticed a significant increase in her job satisfaction and the quality of care she provided.

Mark, a nurse manager, embraced the coach role and fostered an environment of open communication and collaboration among his team members. This approach improved team dynamics and led to a decrease in staff turnover and an increase in overall patient satisfaction.

Sarah, a pediatric nurse, adopted the challenger role to question outdated practices within her unit. By advocating for evidence-based practices, she helped implement new protocols that significantly improved patient outcomes.

Conclusion: Embracing the Empowerment Dynamic for a Fulfilling Nursing Career

group of 5 healthcare workers smiling

The Empowerment Dynamic offers nurses a powerful framework to shift from a victim mindset to a creator mindset, fostering personal growth, professional development, and healthier workplace relationships. By recognizing the Drama Triangle, adopting the creator, challenger, and coach roles, and incorporating TED into daily nursing practice, nurses can transform their work environment, improve patient care, and enjoy a more fulfilling career. Embrace the Empowerment Dynamic and take the first step towards a more empowered nursing practice today.

You can learn more about the Empowerment Dynamic at or by reading the book (affiliate link).

To read more about mental wellness check out this post.