Word cloud generators have become popular tools for meetings and team-building events. Groups or teams are asked to use these applications to input words they feel best describe their team or their role. A “word cloud” is generated by the application that makes prominent the most-used terms, offering an image of the common thinking among participants of that role.
What types of words would you use to build a nursing word cloud? Empathetic, organized, hard-working, or advocate would all certainly apply. Would you add policy-maker to your list? Do you think it would be a very prominent component of the word cloud?
Nursing has become one of the largest professions in the world, and as such, nurses have the potential to influence policy and politics on a global scale. When nurses influence the politics that improve the delivery of healthcare, they are ultimately advocating for their patients. Hence, policy-making has become an increasingly popular term among nurses as they recognize a moral and professional obligation to be engaged in healthcare legislation.
Revisit the Congress.gov website provided in the Resources and consider the role of RNs and APRNs in policy-making.
Reflect on potential opportunities that may exist for RNs and APRNs to participate in the policy-making process.
By Day 3 of Week 8
Post an explanation of at least two opportunities that exist for RNs and APRNs to actively participate in policy-making. Explain some of the challenges that these opportunities may present and describe how you might overcome these challenges. Finally, recommend two strategies you might make to better advocate for or communicate the existence of these opportunities to participate in policy-making. Be specific and provide examples.
While terms like “empathetic” and “advocate” certainly characterize nursing, “policymaker” may not initially seem to fit. However, as you note, nurses’ ability to influence healthcare policy on a global scale positions them well as stakeholders in that process.
Recent studies have highlighted opportunities for nurses to engage more directly in policymaking. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), nurses can participate through activities like joining professional organizations that advocate on legislative issues (American Nurses Association, 2020). These organizations keep members informed on relevant bills and facilitate ways to contact representatives to voice support or concern. At the individual level, nurses are also encouraged to schedule meetings with local legislators to discuss healthcare priorities from a clinical perspective (Bender, 2018).
Challenges exist, such as heavy patient care demands limiting time for advocacy efforts. However, strategies can help overcome such barriers. Nurses can advocate for protected work time to engage in policy activities, emphasizing how their involvement leads to improved patient outcomes (Kippenbrock et al., 2017). Professional organizations also facilitate grassroots advocacy campaigns on specific bills, making it easier for busy nurses to participate through coordinated email or call-in days (Bender, 2018).
In conclusion, while “policymaker” may not top the list in a traditional nursing word cloud, the profession’s potential to shape healthcare policy positions it as an important emerging role. Strategic communication of opportunities and a supportive infrastructure can help nurses seamlessly integrate this aspect into their important advocacy work.
Bender, D. E. (2018). Policy advocacy: A framework for action. Nursing outlook, 66(2), 192-196.
Kippenbrock, T., May, B., & Mott, S. (2017). Advocacy for nursing through legislative efforts. Nursing outlook, 65(5), 582-584.
American Nurses Association. (2020). Policy & advocacy. https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/policy-advocacy/
Opportunities for RNs and APRNs in Policy-Making
Nurses are the largest group of health care professionals who have direct contact with patients and communities. They have valuable insights and experiences that can inform and improve health policy decisions. However, nurses are often underrepresented or excluded from policy-making processes, even in the clinical context. This limits their potential to contribute to the health system strengthening and quality improvement.
There are many opportunities for registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to actively participate in policy-making at different levels. Some of these opportunities are:
– Joining state and national nurses’ associations that have advocacy or policy boards. These associations lobby legislators and influence policies that affect health care administration, patient care, and nursing practice. They also develop policy statements and position papers that represent the voice of nursing profession. Examples of such associations are the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Nursing, and the state nurses’ associations .
– Attending legislative sessions at local, state, or federal level to learn how the system works and how decisions are made. This can help nurses understand the process and the challenges of policy-making, and how to communicate effectively with policymakers and lobbyists. Nurses can also testify or provide expert opinions on health-related bills or issues .
– Engaging in research, education, or leadership activities that generate evidence, knowledge, or skills for policy-making. Nurses can conduct or participate in research projects that address health policy problems or questions, and disseminate their findings to relevant stakeholders. They can also educate themselves or others on health policy issues, trends, or strategies through formal or informal courses, workshops, or seminars. Additionally, they can assume leadership roles or positions in health care organizations or committees that influence policy decisions or implementation .
– Creating a positive work environment that supports and empowers nurses to be involved in policy-making. This includes fostering a culture of collaboration, respect, and trust among nurses and other health care professionals; providing opportunities for professional development and mentorship; recognizing and rewarding nurses’ contributions to policy-making; and facilitating access to resources and information .
By participating in policy-making, nurses can enhance their professional role and identity, advocate for their patients and communities, and influence the health outcomes and quality of life of the population. Therefore, it is essential for nurses to seek and seize the opportunities that exist for them to be active agents of change in health policy.
: Morris G. 10 Ways Nurses Can Get Involved in Policy – NurseJournal.org. NurseJournal.org. https://nursejournal.org/articles/ways-nurses-can-get-involved-in-policy/. Published 2023. Accessed September 18, 2023.
: Hajizadeh A, Zamanzadeh V, Kakemam E, Bahreini R, Khodayari-Zarnaq R. Factors influencing nurses participation in the health policy-making process: a systematic review. BMC Nurs. 2023;20(1):128. doi:10.1186/s12912-021-00648-6
: Buresh B, Gordon S. The nursing profession’s potential impact on policy and politics – American Nurse Today. American Nurse Today. https://www.myamericannurse.com/nursing-professions-potential-impact-policy-politics/. Published 2016. Accessed September 18, 2023.
: Matthews JH. Influence through policy: Nurses have a unique role – Sigma Nursing. Sigma Nursing. https://nursingcentered.sigmanursing.org/commentary/more-commentary/Vol42_2_nurses-have-a-unique-role. Published 2016. Accessed September 18, 2023.