Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession
Many nursing professionals hesitate to get involved in either policy-making or policy evaluation due to the lack of confidence in preparedness or knowledge. In opposition, the Institute of Medicine believes that “nurses were vital to the redesign of healthcare systems, needed to be viewed as partners of physicians and other healthcare providers, and needed to be “at the table” to ensure effective planning, implementation, and ongoing evaluation of healthcare policies” (Milstead, J.A., Short, N.M., (2019). Even though nurses struggle with assurance, many opportunities are offered to become educated in policy evaluation.
Opportunities for policy evaluation in the nursing profession are presented at the state and national levels. Joining state nursing associations presents nurses with the opportunity to gain knowledge of policymaking and evaluation. Through attending conferences, connecting with other members throughout your state, lobbying, speaking to the media on nurses’ behalf, protecting your states’ Nursing Practice Act, and advocating allows nurses to advance their policy evaluation knowledge (Arkansas Registered Nurses Association (ARNA), (2020). Even though there are many benefits, challenges are also exposed. Due to an increased workload of Advanced Practicing Registered Nurses (APRNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs), being apart of either state or national level associations presents challenges that may be overcome with proper time management.
Another opportunity for the professional nursing community is the ability to reach out the local and federal legislation. “Working with your elected representatives on smaller nursing issues related to your experience builds credibility so they’ll be more likely to turn to you when they’re looking for resources for larger nursing issues (Oestberg, Fredrik MSN, RN. (2013). By sharing personal experiences and evidence-based practice research with members of legislation allows nurses to assist in policy evaluation through checking the value, effectiveness, and impact (Oestberg, Fredrik MSN, RN. (2013). Challenges that may be presented are the inabilities to contact local and federal legislation and the differences of opinion. If unable to contact members of legislation, forming relationships with either your organization policy-makers, members of your organization’s administration, or even your educational coordinator may assist in communication.
In order for the knowledge and confidence of nursing professionals to grow, they have to be informed of the available opportunities. By the encouragement of the administration, management, and educational coordinators, practicing RN’s and APRN’s would have the opportunity to advocate for their healthcare profession.
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There are opportunities that exist for RNs and APRNs to actively participate in policy review.. One opportunity that exists for RNs and APRNs is to become a member of a professional nursing organization such as the American Nurses Association or the American Cancer Society. Often times, nurses are not motivated to participate in policy because there are many individuals writing policies that do not have health care knowledge and it can be intimidating to work with them. According to Matthews (2012), “Members and experts from many specialty organizations work with ANA lobbyists in the U.S. Congress and the various state legislatures to inform and persuade legislators concerning the needs of nursing and the general public regarding healthcare issues and quality care.
Another opportunity that exists to become involved in policy review for RNs and APRNs is to become a member of your state nurses association. Many state nurses associations hold positions for nurses to be a part of reviewing different health care policies. The challenge that is posed by this type of involvement in policy review is that it is a time consuming position and it can be difficult to balance that and a full time RN or APRN job. According to the Delaware Nursing Association (n.d), “DNA takes appropriate action whenever necessary to recommend and/or promote legislation (including statutory and administrative laws, executive policies standards, regulations, rulings, and legal decisions) which affect the interest of healthcare consumers, the nursing professional and support the mission and goals of DNA. The advocacy committee is charged with monitoring and participating in policy related to health care, the workplace, patient care, and many other areas where nurses are engaged”.
I believe that the opportunities that are available for RNs and APRNs to become more involved in policy review should be advocated by employers and by state boards of nursing. Employers should promote and foster the relationship of its nursing staff becoming more involved in health care policy making and review. After all, nurses are on the front lines and have a great deal of knowledge to share when it comes to policies in health care. According to Burke (2016), “More than ever, nurses are present in every healthcare setting and possess a unique role in formulating policy”.
Burke, S. (2016). Influence through policy: Nurses have a unique role. Retrieved October 23, 2020 from https://nursingcentered.sigmanursing.org/commentary/more-commentary/Vol42_2_nurses-have-a-unique-role
Delaware Nurses Association (n.d). Advocacy Committee. Retrieved October 23, 2020 from https://www.denurses.org/Committees
Matthews, J., (January 31, 2012) “Role of Professional Organizations in Advocating for the Nursing Profession” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 17, No. 1, Manuscript