The Role of the RN/APRN in Policy-Making
Nursing is one of the largest healthcare professions worldwide, comprising a significant portion of the healthcare workforce. With their extensive clinical experience and interactions with patients, nurses are uniquely positioned to advocate for patients and influence healthcare policy. This paper will explore opportunities for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to participate in the policy-making process, challenges they may face, and strategies to promote greater involvement.
There are several avenues for nurses to actively engage in policymaking. Firstly, RNs and APRNs can directly contact elected officials to educate them on key issues (Dubois & Singh, 2009). By scheduling meetings, writing letters or emails, or testifying at legislative hearings, nurses can provide first-hand perspectives to help shape proposed bills and regulations. Another opportunity is through professional organizations. For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) conducts lobbying efforts and advocates on behalf of its members (American Nurses Association, 2022). Nurses can support these initiatives through membership and volunteering.
However, barriers such as lack of time and experience navigating the political system may hinder participation (Roberts & Group, 2018). The demands of clinical practice leave many nurses with little bandwidth outside of work. Additionally, the policy process can seem opaque. To address this, the ANA and other organizations provide guides on effective advocacy strategies. Nurses can also partner with patient advocacy groups to strengthen their collective voice.
Several actions may help promote greater RN/APRN involvement in policy. Educating nurses on current issues and the value their perspectives bring could motivate action (Roberts & Group, 2018). For instance, in-services, newsletters or conferences highlighting real impacts on patient care may inspire advocacy. Additionally, incorporating policy training into nursing and nurse practitioner curricula establishes the next generation sees it as integral to their roles (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2006; Institute of Medicine, 2010). With over four million RNs and APRNs in the United States, nursing has immense potential to shape healthcare delivery through participation in healthcare legislation and policy (Institute of Medicine, 2010). Overcoming barriers through education, resources and collaboration can help realize this influence.
In conclusion, advocating for patients at a systemic level through policymaking is an important professional responsibility for nurses. While challenges exist, opportunities are emerging for RNs and APRNs to directly engage in the political process. Strategies to promote awareness of these avenues and build advocacy skills can empower nurses to utilize their expertise to advance equitable, quality healthcare.
(1) Dubois, C-A., & Singh, D. (2009). From staff nurse to nurse leader. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
(2) American Nurses Association. (2022). Policy and advocacy. https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/policy-advocacy/
(3) Roberts, S. J., & Group, T. A. N. A. P. (2018). Advocacy in nursing. Springer Publishing Company.
(4) American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2006). The essentials of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice. https://www.aacnnursing.org/DNP/DNP-Essentials
(5) Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. National Academies Press.
THE ROLE OF THE RN/APRN IN POLICY-MAKING
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.
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.