Why Nurses Are Such Good Advocates for Policy Change
If you devote part of your nursing career to changing public policy, you can help improve the nursing profession and the healthcare system.
For years, healthcare debates have dominated the political dialogue in America. In fact, of all the issues on voters’ minds heading into the 2018 election, healthcare ranked number one.1 It seems as if everyone wants some kind of change. The good news is, as a nurse, you’re uniquely positioned to help create that change.
What Makes Nurses Good Policy Advocates?
Nursing is America’s largest healthcare profession, with nurses making up the largest single component of hospital staffs and delivering the majority of the nation’s long-term care.2 This means nurses are vital to the healthcare system and highly experienced in it.
Any policymaker looking to write new healthcare laws or regulations would be wise to lean on the expertise of nurses. And with nursing routinely ranked as the most trusted profession in America,3 many policymakers are already inclined to trust what nurses have to say. But being heard requires nurses like you to make the time and effort to be a part of policymaking.
How Can Nurses Influence Policy?
There are several ways nurses can participate in policy advocacy. One of the most direct is to join the American Nurses Association (ANA), the country’s oldest and largest professional association of nurses. The organization participates in a wide variety of policy initiatives, advocating on local, state, and national levels. When you join the ANA, you can get involved in ongoing advocacy initiatives and/or download a toolkit that can help you launch your own advocacy efforts.
You can also join nursing associations for your state as well as organizations serving the interests of nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and other nursing specialties. But you don’t have to be a member of an organization to be an advocate for policy. Advocacy can be as easy as writing letters to your elected representatives.
What Do Nurses Advocate For?
Since a wide range of policies affect both the practice of nursing and the delivery of healthcare, nurses and nursing organizations advocate for numerous positions. Those positions depend on the individual nurses or nursing organizations that are doing the advocating, but in general, nurses advocate for laws and/or regulations designed to:
- Protect and improve the health and well-being of nurses.
- Protect nurse-patient confidentiality.
- Protect nurse whistleblowers.
- Limit nurses’ personal liability in lawsuits.
- Permit nurses to assume a wider range of healthcare responsibilities.
- Increase staffing of nurses.
- Expand nursing education.
- Expand patient access to healthcare.
- Improve public health.
How Can You Become a Stronger Policy Advocate?
Being a nurse already means you’re in a good position to influence healthcare policy, but if you earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), you can be in an even better position. That’s because an MSN program can significantly improve your nursing skills and advance your career in nursing, giving you more knowledge and more authority to use in your advocacy efforts.
While earning an MSN degree does take work and effort, it can be less complicated than it used to be thanks to online education. Instead of having to live close to a nursing school and drive to classes, online MSN programs allow you to complete your much of your coursework from home and even choose when in the day you attend class. In other words, you can earn a master’s in nursing online from wherever you live while continuing to work full time.
Many online nursing schools offer a range of MSN nursing specialties, preparing students to become a nurse practitioner in a variety of fields or prepare for a career in everything from nurse management to health informatics. If you already hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you can qualify for a master’s degree in nursing program. In some master’s in nursing programs—like the one offered at Walden University—you can even go from RN to MSN. It’s one of the many reasons Walden is the leader in graduate nursing education.4
Online learning has significantly changed how you can earn a Master of Science in Nursing. And earning your MSN can significantly increase your ability to advocate for policy change.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
4Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP codes 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse); 51.3808 (Nursing Science); 51.3818 (Nursing Practice). Includes 2016 preliminary data.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.