By Dr. Barbara Sheer
Every aspect of our lives is influenced by policy. At the workplace there are policies and procedures to guide practice. Our daily lives are affected by policies at the local, state, national and international levels. Professional organizations including: American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), American Nurses Association (ANA), National League for Nursing (NLN) and Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) have all endorsed policy as part of the professional role. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in their report “The Future of Nursing Leading Change, Advancing Health” (2010), recognized the importance of nursing and called for nurses to take the leadership role in improving the quality of healthcare. In the “Presidential Call to Action 2015-2017, Influence on Advance Global Health and Nursing”, Cathy Catrambone PhD, RN, FAAN, called for expanding SSTI’s influence through advocacy, policy, philanthropy and lifelong learning. She encouraged all members to contribute leadership, scholarship and research expertise to advance health policy (1).
If nurses are in a pivotal position to effect policy change why are so few involved? Involvement in policy requires both knowledge and skill. These essential elements should be incorporated into all levels of nursing education from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. Nurses must learn about the issues, identify key stakeholders, and become advocates for healthcare.
Our national political landscape is changing every day. In response many women who have not previously been involved in politics are beginning political campaigns and running for office. More nurses than ever are running for political offices and local, state, and national levels. Local, regional and national nursing organizations provide additional opportunities for policy involvement.
Nursing students must get adequate content on policy making and advocacy and develop competencies in these areas before graduation. In addition to policy, graduate nursing curricula must include content on the fiscal context in which practice takes place and address the linkages of health policy, financing, and economics to quality patient outcomes.
Nurse Consultants Associates can provide nurses and educators the skills and knowledge needed for developing leadership in the area of health policy. NCA offers a wide range of services from curriculum consultation, to courses in health policy and workshops. Our associates have first-hand experience in changing health policy on the local, national, and international levels.
Catrambone, C, https://www.sigmanursing.org/docs/default-source/BOD-Documents/call-to-action-brochure-web-2.pdf?sfvrsn=2 (April 31,2018).