As nurses, we have a unique perspective on healthcare. We are either the provider taking care of the patients in our facility, or we are on the other end of that spectrum as the patient. Having this knowledge allows us to provide valid information and data in regards to healthcare policy. Nurses should be involved in some fashion when it comes to policy and take an active role to advocate for the patients we care for. “The very foundation of professional nursing is rooted in the fundamental concern for the social, emotional, and physical needs of the poor and disadvantaged in society” (Williams, et. al., 2018, para. 2).
There are several ways in which we can be more active in policy review. One way is to become more involved in local politics whether at the level of local government by becoming a member of city council or certain committees or taking on a leadership role in the facility in which we are employed (Brokaw, 2016).
Another way to get involved at the state and federal level is to join a professional nursing organization. “These organizations often have lobbyists that bring nursing issues to Capitol Hill” (Brokaw, 2016, para. 6). If this is a bit overreaching given the level of involvement and other obligations, simply contacting state representatives and voicing opinions on policies and providing evidence for or against the policy can at least bring attention to the issue at hand (Brokaw, 2016).
There are many barriers to nurses’ involvement in policy review and politics in general. One very large barrier is lack of knowledge regarding the policy-making and review process. During my undergraduate degree, I did not have any classes that focused on policy. My community health class did not even touch on the subject. If more education were provided, perhaps the nursing voice might become a bit louder and real change might take place (Turale and Kunaviktikul, 2019).
Another possible barrier to nurses in the world of policy and politics is the lack of support and time. With the current shortage of healthcare staff along with the stress levels and dissatisfaction in day-to-day nursing, we are lucky to make it through a 12-hour shift let alone find the time to get involved in activities outside of our main position (Turale and Kunaviktikul, 2019). Again, this comes down to education on the impact nurses and APRNs have on deciding what policies are crucial and need immediate attention, how to tailor these policies to fit the needs of all parties involved, and how to implement these policies.