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The Role of the RN/APRN in Policy-Making
Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are highly positioned to play an integral role in redesigning the future of healthcare (Milstead & Short, 2019). Globally, nurses are the most trusted profession because of their education, history, practice, and organizational involvement, especially after experiencing health policy catastrophes with the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Further, nurses have the competencies, talents, and courage, along with public respect for their work, to be engaged and influenced in health policy development (Anders, 2021). Nursing should take the initial responsibility to advocate for policies to improve social conditions that shape the well-being of underprivileged populations. According to Williams et al. (2018), “disadvantaged people are less likely to be in good health, less likely to have access to quality healthcare services, and more likely to die prematurely.” Just as nurses are responsible for constantly advocating for patients’ best interests, nurses are also obligated to play a part in policymaking because policies affect patient satisfaction and outcomes.
Many opportunities exist for nurses to get involved in policy and politics at the state and federal levels, for instance, joining a professional nursing organization. Though high membership cost is one of the barriers, RNs and APRNs can face and prevent them from joining a professional organization. While nurses influence the politics that enhance healthcare delivery, they simultaneously advocate for their patients and the profession. Moreover, nurses can form close relationships with their patients, championing the needs and rights of their patients (Anders, 2021). Other ways for nurses to participate in politics and policy making include leading community health creativities like disease screening methods to raise awareness of vital health issues or vaccination events to increase understanding of crucial public health resources. Yet, lack of knowledge or experience of the nature of the professional organization, and lack of time, resources, and assets, are the challenges that these opportunities may present (Williams et al., 2018).
Williams et al. (2018) explain that “Evidence-based, effective policies can ensure healthier communities and address the lack of access to social and material resources that form the root of health inequities. Nurses can advocate for the right social policies to promote justice, fairness, and health equity”.
Today, Hospitals and health systems are launching an inside-out approach to find out and address the unmet social needs of the people they serve. As a nurse and future APRN, one can start by getting information on internal and external collaboration availability to address housing instability, transportation needs, and food insecurity (Williams et al., 2018). Also, nurses can screen patients and collaborate with social workers, case managers, food service personnel, and other non-clinically focused departments on supporting patients’ social needs. Also, gaining the support of the public is another crucial factor in policy change; however, ensuring you have political will is essential (Williams et al., 2018). The late strategies can change nurses’ perceptions and make them become more actively engaged in policy and politics.
Anders, R. L. (2021, January). Engaging nurses in health policy in the era of COVID-19. Nursing forum. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7675349/
Milstead, J. A., & Short, N. M. (2019). Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Williams, S.D., Phillips, J.M., Koyama, K., (2018) “Nurse Advocacy: Adopting a Health in All Policies Approach” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 23, No. 3, Manuscript 1.
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