Nursing is a profession that is in constant transition due to a drastic increase in the complexity and acuity of patients. This has seen nurses continually taking new responsibilities in healthcare leadership to ensure that patient needs are met. As a result, both the nursing and non-nursing theories are being integrated in practice to promote overall patient experience (Deckelman, 2010). This paper aims to portray how Kurt Lewin’s change theory can be integrated in practice to enhance the nursing profession.
Kurt Lewin’s change theory
Kurt Lewin’s Change Theory is founded on a three-stage process that offers an advanced approach to change. It gives change managers ideas pertaining to what implementing change means as well as how they can go about making people to accept change. The first stage of Lewin’s change theory is the unfreezing stage and it involves establishing a way of making people to drift away from an old pattern that was somehow productive (Dennison, 2007). This stage is necessary as it helps to overcome constraints of change to promote group conformity. Unfreezing can be realized by enhancing the driving forces that drift behaviors away from the existing system or pattern and suppressing the restraining forces that inhibit movement from the prevailing equilibrium (Deckelman, 2010). The second stage of Lewin’s change theory is the movement stage and it involves a transition in thoughts, perception or behavior to adopt that which is more productive. The third stage is the refreezing stage, which involves adopting the change as the new process or pattern so it becomes the routine operating procedure (Dennison, 2007). The basic concepts of Lewin’s change theory include the driving forces, restraining forces and equilibrium. The driving forces describe the forces that exert pressure in the direction that would perpetuate change. Driving forces promote change because they influence individuals to move into the desired direction. The restraining forces tend to counter the driving forces by pushing a person into the opposite direction. This way, the restraining forces hinder change by pushing the equilibrium into the opposing direction. The equilibrium describes a situation where the driving forces balance with the restraining forces, and as such, they inhibit change from taking place (Lehman, 2008).
Putting Lewin’s change theory into practice can help to enhance the nursing profession by equipping change managers with proper understanding about human behavior as it links to change. Lewins’s “unfreezing stage” enhances the nursing profession by ensuring that understanding of challenges linked to identified problem within the profession are sought and tactic that can help to strengthen the driving forces while suppressing the restraining forces developed (Lehman, 2008). This can for example be achieved through gathering all stakeholders that will be impacted by change, communicating the idea for change and outlining the driving as well as the potentially constraining forces that might affect the intended change project. Some of the driving forces that nursing staffs can identify include incentives, dissatisfaction with the current processes of operation, social demands and pressure from organizational leaders (Deckelman, 2010). Similarly, some of the restraining forces that the nursing staffs can identify include apathy, lack of technological knowhow, high cost and poor maintenance. The “moving stage” then allows for actual change implementation by allowing the nursing staffs to balance the two opposing forces thereby allowing the driving forces to promote the change. At this stage, implementation of the change project within the nursing profession generates the desired change, which calls for constant open communication with the nursing staff to ensure that the new pattern becomes the new routine of operation. After the desired change has occurred, the refreezing stage is then used to analyze the steadiness of the change and the subsequent effectiveness within the profession (Dennison, 2007).
Lewin’s change theory is a three-stage process that offers a high-level approach to change. This theory constitutes of the unfreezing, the moving and refreezing stages and it is usually intended to balance driving and constraining forces to promote change. This theory can enhance the nursing profession by equipping change managers with ideas pertaining to change and the specific patterns that should be followed for change to take place.
Deckelman, S. (2010). Collaboration of Nursing Faculty and College Adminstration in Creating Organizational Change, Nursing Education Perspectives, 31(6):211-259.
Dennison, R. (2007). A Medication Safety Education Program to Reduce the Risk of Harm Caused by Medication Errors. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 38(4):176-184.
Lehman, K. (2008). Change Management: Magic or Mayhem. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 24(4):176-184.