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RE: Discussion – Week 8
The Role of the RN/APRN in Policy-Making
This discussion considers two opportunities for registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to participate in policymaking actively. I will include the challenges these opportunities may present and offer resolutions. I will also recommend two strategies to better advocate for or communicate these opportunities and the need to participate in policy-making.
RNs and APRNs are in unique positions to influence healthcare policy. We have first-hand knowledge and experience fundamental to improving healthcare (American Nurses Association [ANA], n.d.) and as experts in nursing, becoming involved in policy allows us to advocate for our patients and communities upstream, in advance of hospitalization. This kind of advocacy improves health, decreases health care disparities, and improves health care delivery.
Two opportunities to affect policy include serving on panels or as consultants and getting involved with nursing organizations already at the forefront of nursing advocacy. Serving on committees or as consultants allows nurses to provide their expert opinions directly to lawmakers and others (Milstead & Short, 2019). Another opportunity to affect policy is becoming involved with organizations like the American Nurses Association, which has political committees (ANA, n.d.). Through such organizations, nurses can be elected to public office, thereby influencing policy that increases the quality of care, delivery of care, patient safety, and improving nurses’ work conditions (staffing or safety).
According to Tummers and Bekkers (2014), nurses provide a bottom-up perspective, as nurses hold unbiased viewpoints relevant and substantial for policy-making. With this valuable knowledge, nurses are well-positioned to advance change specific to their situation (Tummers & Bekkers, 2014). As such, it is beneficial that nurses are involved in formulating healthcare policy.The challenges of these opportunities include lack of knowledge or familiarization with policy and politics and absence of support. The idea of policy influence in nursing is relatively new. Nurses are not familiar with or educated on health care policy and are not involved or consulted with policy issues. Only advanced nursing programs require courses on health policy. Accordingly, nurses are not exposed to health policy and do not have support or role models or networks.
To counter these challenges, nurses can position themselves to interact with state lawmakers. Nurses can research their legislators’ interests and align themselves with those who share similar healthcare concerns (Milstead & Short, 2019). Fact sheets facilitate communication between congressional and state legislative offices (Milstead & Short, 2019). Also, nurses can attend workshops, or career days to form a mentor relationship with an experienced nurse advocate or seek formal education on health policy or public health (Oestberg, 2013).
One strategy to better communicate the existence of opportunities to participate in the policy includes healthcare policy education (Oestberg, 2013). Health policy politics needs to be part of every curriculum for nursing education. Exposing students to health care policy will provide a clear understanding of health systems and policy development processes. Another strategy is to join nursing organizations like ANA with committees designed to influence health care policy.
In summary, nurses have a strong understanding of the factors that affect health care delivery. Their voices are essential to improving policy. Nurses must optimize strategies such as education and networking to obtain the knowledge skills and support necessary to advocate for the profession. Utilizing these strategies will inspire other nurses to advocate for their clients and occupation and help overcome challenges.
American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Advocacy. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/advocacy/
Milstead, J. A., & Short, N. M. (2019). Health Policy and Politics A Nurse’s Guide (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Oestberg, F. (2013). Getting involved in policy and politics. Nursing 2020 Critical Care, 8(3), 48. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://journals.lww.com/nursingcriticalcare/Fulltext/2013/05000/Getting_involved_in_policy_and_politics.10.aspx
Tummers, L., & Bekkers, V. (2014). Policy Implementation, Street-level Bureaucracy, and the Importance of Discretion. Public Management Review, 16(4), 527–547. Retrieved July 22, 2020, from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=4badb4ce-63c4-49db-bfc9-ce57253a0a8b%40sdc-v-sessmgr01
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