In today’s world, many healthcare organizations are emphasizing the need for professional nurses to be more involved in policy-making and advocacy. Nurses have the responsibility and capacity to influence the current and future of healthcare delivery systems. Health policies are actions and plans that are put in place to achieve healthcare goals in society. It has important implications for those who rely on healthcare systems as it is essential in ensuring the appropriate standards are observed (AbuAlRub & Foudeh, 2017). In every healthcare setting, nurses possess a unique role when policies are being formulated. They play the role of shaping and implementing health policies in the community they serve.
Professional nurses have the ethical and moral responsibility to get involved in healthcare policy decision-making for the improvement of the community they serve. They are tasked with the responsibility of advising policymakers for them to make informed decisions (Milstead & Short, 2019). In addition to providing patient care, professional nurses have roles in health care policy development, advocacy, and implementation. Their participation shapes the future care of patients through influencing practice processes and standards to ensure quality care is being delivered.
Nurses spend several hours with their patients, and therefore they know the specific needs of the people they serve. This, in turn, makes them excellent advocates for health policy development (AbuAlRub & Foudeh, 2017). They are in a better position to make informed decisions and be policy influencers. Nurses do this through sharing political knowledge, communicating, and collaborating with members of the legislative team. Their role in the healthcare policy formulation team is to ensure the policies being made protects patient safety, facilitate quality care, and increases the ease of access to essential resources.
Professional nurses can look for opportunities and chances to improve or alter health policies within the healthcare sector. Nurses can influence decision-making when affairs relating to health are discussed. Moreover, health policy has a direct effect on nurses, and it will be in their best interests to be engaged in policy formulation (Milstead & Short, 2019). Often, nurses are frustrated by policies that are written by persons with little expertise in healthcare. These policies infringe on the nursing practice and can lead to negativity, demotivation, and burnout. When nurses participate in policy-making, they are given the opportunity to make a difference in their profession.
Traditionally, the role of nurses was to only care for their patients, but today, their roles have expanded to include participating in policy processes. Nurses are closest to the patients, and this close nature of their interaction with patients gives them a good position to provide vital policy information. By assessing patient needs, they can write white papers and position statements that educate the lawmakers and the public about the needs of the patients (Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019). Nurses can use their voices to give an expert’s perspective of efforts to improve public health. Additionally, they actively work with lawmakers to identify issues and ensure quality healthcare is accessible and affordable.
Professional nurses are positioned to influence positive changes to health policies. They can advocate for change as lobbyists and prepare health policy briefs. Their responsibility is to develop health policies that directly affect the quality of patient care and health outcomes in the community. To be influential in health care policy, nurses use their skills and knowledge to lobby for change and shape the policies that impacts millions of people. These nurses can give a unique perspective to the development of healthcare policy from their educational training, professional ethics, and advocacy skills (Milstead & Short, 2019). Also, they have a role in participating in policy-related activities that advance health policy-driven agendas.
Action Plan to Increase Involvement for Nurses in Health Policy
When nurses are involved in policy-making, healthcare delivery is hugely impacted. Unfortunately, there is less involvement of professional nurses in health policy formulation (AbuAlRub & Foudeh, 2017). There are a number of reasons for limited nurse involvement in healthcare policy, including lack of awareness, inadequate resources, and lack of involvement opportunities. In other situations, nurses are not involved in policy development since they are either busy providing bedside care to their patients, do not have the time, or do not understand why they should participate. Regardless of the barriers to policy involvement, nurses are crucial to the formulation and implementation processes of health policy.
Action plans of increasing nurse involvement in policy making can range from exposure to policy knowledge in educational institutions to training programs in their areas of work. Educational curricula can be reviewed and modified to include the teaching of policy-making and provide skills such as leadership and advocacy to nurses (Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019). Educational institutions that provide nursing education should redevelop and use newer learning strategies to give nurses an opportunity to familiarize themselves with health policies. The reviewed coursework can help nurses to advocate for policy-making and educate people about the positive impact of policy changes. This will educate nurses on the importance of involving themselves in policy development as it gives an arena to demonstrate their abilities, thoughts, and practice.
Furthermore, another plan is for nursing departments to serve as role models and show the importance of engaging in health policy development as part of their professional obligation (Ellenbecker et al., 2017). Establishing a policy research center in the faculty will send a clear message on the importance of policy involvement. Nurse administrators can encourage their staff to be involved in health policy-making and provide the necessary resources for them. By organizing policy conferences, training programs, and workshops, nurses can better understand the impact of their role and influence on health policy (Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019). In these workplace forums, nurses can collaborate with their team members to contribute on the ways to promote health policy advocacy. Integrating policy-making programs in educational institutions can help nurses learn how policy-making involvement and advocacy are central to their profession as they work to improve patient care.
In conclusion, it is important for all professional nurses to understand and have knowledge about the significance of health policy. They influence healthcare policy through their daily roles in care delivery. Nurses should have a clear understanding of how policy affects them and how their unique patient knowledge is crucial for healthcare policy development processes. The involvement of nurses in healthcare policy development will impact the quality of patient care and society as a whole. Healthcare facilities should promote nurses’ involvement by allocating resources to support them in researching policy changes. Policy training programs can motivate nurses to be more politically savvy and contribute their ideas or shape policy-making.
AbuAlRub, R. F., & Foudeh, F. N. (2017). Jordanian nurses’ involvement in health policy: perceived benefits and barriers. International Nursing Review, 64(1), 13-21.
Ellenbecker, C. H., Fawcett, J., Jones, E. J., Mahoney, D., Rowlands, B., & Waddell, A. (2017). A staged approach to educating nurses in health policy. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 18(1), 44-56.
Milstead, J. A., & Short, N. M. (2019). Informing public policy: An important role for registered nurses. In Health Policy and Politics: A Nurse’s Guide (pp. 1-15). Jones & Bartlett.
Turale, S., & Kunaviktikul, W. (2019). The contribution of nurses to health policy and advocacy requires leaders to provide training and mentorship. International Nursing Review, 66(3), 302–304. Web.