Nurses, as the largest U. S. healthcare group of workers, can make an impact on how health care is delivered by participating in its political process (Milstead & Short, 2019). Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are in a great position to become active advocates for our patients; with our hands-on experience and firsthand knowledge of areas of needs we can play a major role in improving the standards of health care and promote quality of care (Milstead & Short, 2019). Instead of waiting for legislative action to address nurse shortages, or accept the approval for increased wages of our support staff members to occur several years from now, we need to ensure congress understands our roles; we need to educate them in understanding that by taking better care of the direct care workers, the patients receive improved continuity of care; nurses can help congress address the three pillars of healthcare; access, cost, and quality (Milstead & Short, 2019). As political advocates, we need to arm ourselves with the knowledge of the regulatory process to better ensure we step in at the opportune time, understanding the three streams and the window of opportunity (Milstead & Short, 2019). We need to educate ourselves on the “who” in office is the key person for our cause; we should create alliances with that legislator, and their staff; building credibility as a client advocate grants us our passage into the policymaking process (Milstead & Short, 2019). We must take advantage of our opportunities to participate in the policy-making process.
On the local level, the nurse may need a start-to-finish commitment when participating in the policy-making process. From seeking out our contact legislator, to scheduling and fulfilling a meet-and-greet to present our fact sheet and start to implant our self with them, to meeting up with opposition to discuss their views and brainstorm a compromise, and possibly follow through up to the bill presentation if it gets past the houses. This can be a very exciting and rewarding process, but not feasible, unless we get paid for all that work.
If the nurse wants to make an impact on the state or federal level, they should not just join a professional nursing organization but be an active participant in it; these organizations represent nurses on policy issues, and can also assist the nurse in becoming politically active (Catallo, et al, 2014). Participation is of utmost importance, as according to a study, poor impact is made on the policy issues if an organization does not have a substantial member participation, (MacDonald et al, 2012). Nurses can be a part of short-term internships, which were originally created by nursing organizations who realized the importance and impact nurses could have in the policy-making process (Milstead & Short, 2019). Nurses involved in this team setting do not find themselves having to perform all the tasks alone, versus the lone nurse approach on the local level.
Although, there has been a push in increasing policy knowledge from the undergraduate level to graduate programs, it will take the joined forces of nursing associations, organizations, BONs, and educators to help nurses realize their full potential towards shaping and improving the health care field when participating in health policy development (Turale, et al, 2019). Professional nursing organizations are tailored to specific areas of specialties, the nurse needs to seek out those organizations that pique their interests and adds fuel to their drive; we need to connect with others who are like minded to better remain current on issues and act on them if we expect change to occur; we need to be pro-active, versus reactive.
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In this discussion post, opportunities for nursing professionals to participate in policymaking will be identified. In addition to identified opportunities for the nursing profession, two strategies will be listed to better advocate in the policymaking sector. The American Nurses Association (ANA) reports that legislative and political advocacy is no less important than patient care (American Nurses Association (ANA), 2021).
Two ways to create opportunity for active participation in policy-making is to join groups and communicate with legislators. Joining a professional association like the ANA allows nursing professionals to unite in campaigns to reduce harm and promote safety (ANA, 2021). Nursing professionals can also speak to governmental officials specifically which provides client meaningfulness ensuring an individualistic approach to bureaucracy (Tummers & Bekkers, 2014).
Two strategies for better advocacy in healthcare policymaking would be to write letters to our government officials and share knowledge with other colleagues. Professional networking can be used to gain targeted organizational members committed to innovation (Klein & Sorra, 1996). Finding colleagues is made more accessible by websites aimed at professional connections. Sharing knowledge with colleagues and legislators can be done simultaneously professionally on sites such as LinkedIn. Professional letter writing and networking are two strategies aimed to improving healthcare policymaking and development.
In conclusion, nursing professionals must join together, reach out, and continue to advocate for better health care for all. Nurses have the unique capability to provide elected officials with educated information that influences policy development and adaptation. 2 APA references