The Nurse Leader as Knowledge Worker
The concept of knowledge workers is important in various professions, including nursing. Knowledge plays an important role in the way professionals perform their work. The idea was coined by Peter Drucker, who defined a knowledge worker as a person who works on tasks where knowledge is developed or used, while being recruited to generate and analyze ideas and information (Drucker, 1959). Such employees use theoretical and analytical knowledge they acquire through training in formal settings to create products and services.
Nurses are knowledge workers since they collect, analyze, and use information to create knowledge that they apply in their practice. They use informatics to gather and manage the necessary data to solve practical problems in health care (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2017). Nurse leaders use emerging technologies to manage clinical information and knowledge, as well as to develop new understanding of their work. Nurses exchange knowledge during critical points in patient care, which improves care outcomes (Matney, Maddox, & Staggers, 2014). For example, they use electronic records to create knowledge regarding safe and quality patient care, such as prevention of medication errors. Leaders should integrate knowledge management in their organizations through implementation of health information systems and forming a culture of regular knowledge creation and use (Gagliardi, Berta, Kothari, Boyko, & Urquhart, 2015). Nurse leaders should acquire skills to collect, analyze, and identify data and apply clinical judgement and critical thinking when solving problems.
Nurses as knowledge workers play a significant role in patient-care delivery decision-making. They achieve the objective through data gathering, information use, and knowledge building and use. For instance, they review data on medication errors (data gatherer) among inpatients, interpret reports on the problem (information user), create interventions to solve medical issues, and improve the safety of care (knowledge builder).