Nurse leaders must take bigger role in policy

As nurses get a bigger seat at the leadership table in hospitals, they must become better-versed in healthcare policy, argues an article in Minority Nurse.

For example, writes Janice Phillips, Ph.D., R.N., after she began conducting research among underserved populations on breast cancer disparities, she became actively involved in lobbying and public policy advocacy to reduce these disparities.

"Thankfully, I realized the strong connection between practice, research, and policy--and now encourage nurses to do the same," writes Phillips, director of government and regulatory affairs at Philadelphia's CGFNS International, Inc.

To develop similar policy focuses of their own, Phillips writes, nurses must:

  • Take health policy courses during their nurse training
  • Become involved in professional organizations
  • Attend in-person and virtual lobby days
  • Analyze publications and presentations for policy implications
  • Read policy journals
  • Share personal policy-related experiences
  • Factor policy components into day-to-day clinical work, such as student interviews with legislators
  • Identify policy implications in everyday practice

Regardless of nurses' level of policy involvement, lobbying by nurses has far-reaching implications already, Phillips writes. For example, whether to expand nurses' scope of practice has become a hot topic in multiple state legislatures, and the outcomes of these debates will affect not just nursing leaders but frontline nurses as well. Similarly, the Affordable Care Act includes numerous provisions that affect nurses, creating a prime opportunity for nurses and nurse leaders to step into bigger policy roles, she says.

To learn more:
- read the article