Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Despite our roles as patient advocates, many nurses shy away from political advocacy. Our tradition as a female-dominated occupation and gender role norms from the dark ages have contributed to our silence. We can no longer afford to be silent.
In the current age of big healthcare business models, there is more emphasis on the business case for justifying our presence. Like it or not, we have got to be able to articulate our value to those making the decisions around healthcare. We need to show them that it is a good business decision to have enough nurses.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
The 2010 healthcare reform act (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA) gives nurses new opportunities to deliver care and play an integral role in leading change. (See http://championnursing.org/sites/default/files/nursingandhealthreformlawtable.pdf.) Understanding these opportunities is just the first step. We need to know how we can be part of the solution to achieve better patient outcomes at a more reasonable cost. We need to do more to prevent disease; provide chronic care management to an aging, sicker, and more diverse population; and offer end-of-life care that emphasizes comfort and compassion. Across all settings—especially geriatrics—we must do more to prepare ourselves for the future.
In this article, I outline nine challenges that individual nurses and our profession must address if we are to help lead our country to a healthcare system that is more equitable and provides a higher quality of care. (For a flowchart of these challenges, see Nurse’s role in reforming healthcare by clicking on the PDF icon above.)
Use nurse-led innovations. Nurses know how to expand access to care and improve quality at lower cost. We’ve developed innovative care models to prove it, including nurse-managed health clinics, home visiting programs for low-income mothers, and the Transitional Care Model (TCM). By emphasizing the use of master’s-prepared nurses to oversee care from the hospital to within the home, this model has reduced rehospitalizations for elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions. Research shows that using the TCM helps patients achieve better long-term health outcomes and avoid repeat hospitalizations, all at a reduced cost. We need more nurses to develop innovations. (For good examples to follow, visit www.aannet.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3303.)
Generate evidence and engage in research. Nurses play important roles as innovators who help shape quality and safety. Successful models aren’t born, implemented, or sustained without solid effectiveness data. It’s up to all nurses to collect and track data to improve their own practice as part of broader efforts to improve care. Nursing research helps build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevention, and improved patient outcomes.
We must support nurse researchers through adequate funding. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is doing this by funding the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, a program that links evidenced-based nursing care to improved patient outcomes.
Redesign nursing education. All nurses need to possess basic competencies to meet the demands of an aging and diverse society, with an emphasis on clinical training in multiple settings across the lifespan. The emphasis should be on quality and safety, evidence-based practice, research, and leadership. Several RWJF programs are working to incorporate these concepts into nursing education, including Quality and Safety in Nursing Education, the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, and the Nurse Faculty Scholars program. Therefore, we need to remove barriers to attaining baccalaureate and advanced degrees, such as by strengthening partnership links between community colleges and upper-division degree-granting institutions and all academic institutions and practice organizations. The RWJF-funded Center to Champion Nursing in America is providing technical assistance to help with academic progression. A standardized residency program would give nurses on-the-job learning and would better prepare them for clinical practice. Certification and continuous learning opportunities are essential to a profession that’s responsible for others’ lives.
Expand the scope of practice. Advanced practice nurses (APNs) must be allowed to practice to the full extent of their education and licensure. Working with physicians, they can provide cost-effective care and help address the primary care shortage. However, statutory and regulatory barriers prevent them from practicing to the full extent of their licensure. With 32 million Americans about to receive health insurance under PPACA, it’s crucial that APNs be permitted to provide the primary care they’re trained to give.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Diversify our workforce. Approximately 33% of our population belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group, and by 2042 minorities will account for a majority of the U.S. population. To reduce health disparities, greater efforts must be made to ensure that the nursing workforce reflects patients’ diverse backgrounds and cultural values. Furthermore, all nurses should be educated to provide culturally competent care. Finally, we need to bring more men into the profession. The goal of RWJF’s New Careers in Nursing program is to provide scholarships to students from diverse backgrounds to attain baccalaureate and masters degrees.
Embrace technology. We must learn to use the newest medical technology and electronic documentation systems to improve quality. Nursing schools should use simulation labs and take advantage of online classes to educate more students. Nurses are frequent technology users; more of us need to be at the table to help make decisions about designing and purchasing the technologies that help patients the most. The RWJF Technology Drill Downs program provides a process that enables nurses to identify and apply technology solutions to improve patient care.
Foster interprofessional collaboration. Teamwork and collaboration are critical to seamless high-quality care. The process begins with understanding the roles and responsibilities of each healthcare discipline. Understanding—and the trust it fosters—must start in joint nursing and medical school training programs, and continue as a cultural norm in practice settings.
Develop leadership at every level. Nurses should have the opportunity to take on leadership activities whether they practice at the bedside or sit in the boardroom. They must believe they are capable and fully empowered to provide excellent care and make the changes necessary to improve ineffectual systems. Physicians and administrators must support nurses in their efforts. Most of all, nurses need to help each other through mentoring, educational and skills development opportunities, and support networks.
Be at the table. As the healthcare professionals most actively engaged in direct patient care, nurses are positioned to provide leadership in all healthcare areas, including developing systems to reduce medical errors, improving quality, providing better care coordination, increasing access to care, and averting workforce shortages. Yet clinical experience isn’t enough. To serve as successful and knowledgeable board or committee members, nurses must be familiar with governance, strategy, fundraising, financial systems, health law, and policy. Always say “yes” when asked to be at the table. If you believe you’re ready but haven’t been asked, then ask to be involved in a board or committee of interest. Nurse Leaders in the Boardroom, another RWJF program, is working to bring more nurses into leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels.
At the end of her life, Florence Nightingale said, “May we hope that when we are all dead and gone, leaders will arise who have been personally experienced in the hard, practical work, the difficulties and the joys of organizing nursing reforms, and who will lead far beyond anything we have done.” Take her words to heart and prepare yourself to contribute to the reforms that will take place in our lifetime. We have much to contribute.
Nursing is the largest medical profession in the world with nearly 4 million nurses in the United States alone. As such, nurses have the potential to profoundly influence policy and politics on a global scale. In fact, it is the moral and professional obligation of nurses to be engaged in legislation that impacts their patients. When nurses influence the politics that improve the delivery of healthcare, they are ultimately advocating for their patients. Unfortunately, nurses have historically had little involvement in policy that affects healthcare delivery.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
There are several reasons for the limited nursing participation in policy and politics. Lack of awareness, inadequate skills, and little opportunity for involvement are just a few factors. Another barrier is the limited formal health care policy education in nursing. Time and resources are further obstacles to the nursing profession’s participation in politics. Additionally, studies show that nurses are not given sufficient support to generate the evidence needed to influence healthcare policy.
Regardless of the multiple factors limiting the nursing profession’s potential impact on politics, the fact remains that nurses are vital to the development and implementation of healthcare policy. As the largest medical profession in the world, nurses should be leading the way in redesigning the healthcare system. But in order to do so, they will need to partner with members of other medical professions such as physicians. For this to happen, nurses must be skilled in patient care as well as in interdisciplinary teamwork, informatics and technology, implementing evidence-based practice, and quality improvement
All too often, nurses become frustrated by policies affecting nursing practice, particularly when those policies are written by individuals with limited healthcare knowledge and experience. This frustration often leads to negativity, disillusionment, bitterness, and burn-out. Instead, nurses should channel their frustrations into making a positive difference in their profession. As Oestberg states, “As nurses, we need to think of policy as something we can influence, not just something that happens to us.”Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
The truth is, any nurse can influence policy and politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Locally, nurses can become politically active by assuming leadership positions in the healthcare system or contacting elected officials about legislation affecting the industry. Nurses can obtain formal training in politics, become involved in city councils and committees, or even run for local office. And something as simple as exercising the right to vote can impact healthcare policy.
At the state and federal level, nurses can get involved in policy and politics by joining a professional nursing organization. These organizations often have lobbyists that bring nursing issues to Capitol Hill. Nurses can also write their state representatives regarding healthcare policy. Nurses can undertake internships with elected officials to personally work on matters affecting healthcare. And nurses can even run for state office — there are two nurses currently serving in the Florida State Legislature.
As Oestberg so succinctly points out, “If nurses don’t stand up for issues that are important to us, those with competing interests in healthcare may be the only ones whose voices are heard.” By joining their voices together, American nurses can influence the policy and politics that affect healthcare. Marquis and Huston define politics as “the art of using legitimate power wisely.” The nursing profession has significant power to profoundly impact healthcare policy on a global scale. Additionally, the nurses of today are younger, more educated, and more diverse. They bring more energy, more ideas, and more ingenuity to the nursing profession. Perhaps they will even bring more political activism.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
However, nurses need support in order to effect change. And that support starts at home. Families and friends of nurses need to encourage political activism. Nursing schools need to include healthcare policy education as part of the curriculum, as well as encourage some level of political involvement from nursing students. Furthermore, the faculty of nursing schools should also participate in policy changes, thereby acting as role models for their students. Finally, employers need to provide staff nurses with the time, resources, and opportunities to influence local, state and federal policy. After all, healthcare legislation ultimately affects us all.
Implementation of evidence is essential for patients to receive the best care possible” (Fineout-Overholt & Johnson, 2006, p. 194). “The existence of a gap between science and practice is universally recognized [horizontal ellipsis]and many interventions never reach those who could benefit. It is estimated that it takes an average of 17 years to translate 14% of original research into benefit for patients and an average of 9 years for interventions recommended as evidence-based practices (EBPs) to be fully adopted” (Tinkle, Kimball, Haozous, Shuster, & Grochowski, 2013, p. 1). “Part of this extensive delay in translation of research into practice is that nurses tend to view research findings as something someone else should be concerned with versus a critical element of their daily practice” (Fineout-Overholt & Johnson, 2006, p. 194).
These past few months, I have worked to integrate evidence into a simple policy for intramuscular injections (IMs). The policy needed approval from the leaders in ambulatory care. The group was willing to go along with the change from the dorsogluteal to the ventrogluteal site for injection but did not accept the evidence that all IMs should be administered Z track. They also could not support the evidence that gloves were not required unless it could be reasonably anticipated that the staff might have hand contact with blood, other potentially infectious material, mucous membranes, and/or nonintact skin. Why was it so difficult for them to accept the evidence? Cost was certainly one issue on the side of Z track technique. The medical assistants had not been using the Z track for injections although it is within the scope of their practice. Although they were trained in school, they would have to be retrained now at a cost. On the other hand, gloves are expensive; however, the group believed that gloves should be worn and changed for every injection. “The patients expect it,” they said. But wouldn’t the patients expect the best possible procedure (Z track) because it reduces pain, increases absorption of the injectate, and decreases the rate of infection?Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
When we changed the policy to eliminate aspiration before injection of immunizations, vaccines, and insulin, many people responded that they would continue to aspirate because that was the way they were taught; some had experience with blood return, and some thought it was safer practice. However, the evidence shows that aspiration in these cases is not necessary and just increases the injection time for the patient. If we cannot get leaders to implement evidence into practice, do we have a hope of the nurse at the point of service doing so?
Here are some of the reasons expressed for reluctance to incorporate evidence into practice.
* That’s the way I was trained.
* We have always done it that way with no problems.
* It’s ritual and tradition.
* It’s a “sacred cow”; we can’t change that.
* It’s how we do things here; it’s our group culture.
* Change is uncomfortable.
* It costs too much to change.
* I don’t trust the evidence; who did that study and was it done with rigor?
* We can’t make all these changes at one time.
* When I am in a hurry I do what I have always done[horizontal ellipsis]. it’s just not a habit yet.
* There needs to be more research so we can be sure.
* There is a lack of resources for evidence at the bedside, lack of knowledge, lack of skill, and lack of time.
* I don’t feel it will make a difference.
* There are too many competing demands.
Making changes is an age old problem. Consider the case of treatment for scurvy.
* 1593: Sir Richard Hawkins recommended sour oranges and lemons as a treatment.
* 1601: Lancaster showed that lemon juice supplement eliminates scurvy among sailors (nonrandomized controlled trial).
* 1747: Lind shows that citrus juice supplement eliminates scurvy.
* 1795: 94 years after the evidence (level 2) is presented, the British Navy implements citrus juice supplements (Kirsh & Aron, 2009).Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Another barrier to implementing evidence is the lack of research on the most successful ways to disseminate evidence and research findings. There is some evidence that passive approaches to dissemination of research such as publication and mass mailings are ineffective (Tinkle et al., 2013). More promising methods of dissemination include hands-on technical assistance, replication guides, and targeted training workshops with hands-on experience (Tinkle et al., 2013). According to Kiefe and Sales (2006), research into the science of implementation is needed.
So, how can we encourage staff to implement new evidence in practice? Here are some thoughts.
* Make the data meaningful. One of my colleagues told me of a time when she was practicing clinical nursing and the physician wanted the nurses to position babies on their backs. However, at that time, they were all taught to place babies on their stomach or side to avoid aspiration if they vomited. No matter how often the physician suggested the change, the nurses went back to their familiar practice until, one day, he made the data meaningful. He gathered the nurses around a basinet and registered pulse oximetry with the baby on her side, then on her stomach, and then on her back. When the nurses saw the difference in the results they agreed that placing the baby on her back was best[horizontal ellipsis]and they changed their practice.
* Select a nurse who is interested in nursing research to serve as an EBP mentor. Having an EBP mentor or champion who works with the staff on the unit in implementing evidence into care legitimizes the practice. Mentors can offer help with point-of-care decisions based on evidence. The mentor might also help the staff conduct library searches and literature reviews and can diagnose gaps in knowledge regarding EBP.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
* Implement a journal club where staff read articles on care of patients in their specialty and discuss the findings; this activity focuses the staff on looking at current evidence.
* Ensure that the staff has access to library resources and the time to investigate them and share what they learn with other staff members.
* Facilitate a culture of inquiry and research by encouraging staff to ask questions such as the following: Why do we do this? Why not do it this way? What else might we do?
* Incorporate evidence-based discussions in staff meetings. Use meeting time to review new evidence-based policies and procedures relative to patients, and informally quiz the staff on the information. Encourage staff reflection on care given; what worked and what did not. Include the staff in decision making about how change can best be implemented in the unit/department.
* Provide education for staff on EBP including posters, educational sessions, an “evidence” book with articles that the staff must read, email “blurbs” if staff has access to email, a Web site containing EBP information for the unit, and most importantly, the opportunity for hands-on simulated practice.
* Expose staff to initiatives that are focused on the use of data.
* Involve direct care nurses in the discovery of new knowledge through data collection and participation in local research projects.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
* Identify staff who are “early adopters” and will most influence implementation. Who does the staff listen to and view as a resource? Then, get that staff member on board first as you implement changes.
* Report back to leaders on your efforts to implement EBP in the department and the results of that implementation. Take credit for your good work; brag shamelessly. Let staff know that leadership is aware of EBP efforts.
* Demonstrate that you value implementing evidence into practice by providing time for the staff to participate in your chosen method of education and dissemination.
As professional nurses, leaders, and nursing professional development specialists, it is our responsibility to incorporate evidence into our practice to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.
Nurses constantly talk about evidence-based practice, the gold standard for what we do. Evidence is also needed for nursing advocacy. Through research, gather a good base of evidence to present to decision makers about the changes you want to see.5 Be aware of limitations in studies you’re presenting because other interest groups may try to find flaws in the evidence.6 Other factors that may influence your success include limited funding and party politics.6 Special interest groups may try to block your policy agenda. Legislators may also be acting on their own personal beliefs.
Don’t underestimate the power of personal experiences. Speaking to decision makers about personal stories may put a face and a story to an issue. Politicians also want to hear how legislative issues would impact the constituents in their district. They’re likely to be more receptive to a proposal that could lead to a significant improvement in the health of their constituents.
Use your local and state resources or national nursing advocacy groups to gain an understanding of current issues and learn how you can become involved. Many specialty nursing organizations have policy experts available as resources to beginning nurse advocates. They can help with preparing written or oral statements for hearings and may accompany nurses to hearings at the local state house or even on Capitol Hill.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Network with other nurses to create a unified voice. Equally important, form a good working relationship with your elected representatives and their staff by first building credibility with them.3 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.
Now explore some current issues in nursing advocacy.
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Safe nurse staffing
Over the last decade or so, a hot topic has been nurse staffing ratios for the best quality of care in light of costs. As of 2012, only California has legislated strict nurse-to-patient ratios across all hospitals in the state.7 Although other states have introduced legislation mandating similar specific nurse-to-patient ratios across all hospitals in the state, these bills have made little progress despite research showing improvement in patient outcomes with improved nurse-to-patient ratios.8
Some states have enacted legislation or adopted regulations to address nurse staffing in other ways. Currently, 15 states as well as the District of Columbia have some form of nurse staffing plan. Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington have used hospital staffing committees, where most committee members are required to be direct care nurses, as their plan to address nurse staffing. These committees would set annual or unit-specific staffing ratios to address issues such as patient acuity and turnover. Other states, including Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, have enacted legislation that requires hospitals and/or medical facilities to publicly disclose staffing ratios.8
The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act (S.58/H.R. 876), introduced in 2011 by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH), suggested a flexible staffing plan for each hospital and unit set by hospital staffing committees, with most of its members required to be direct care nurses. This law would function similarly to the staffing committee legislation enacted currently in individual states. These staffing plans would take into account issues such as high patient acuity or a large number of discharges or admissions for each unit, and staff accordingly.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Recent research supports The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act’s goals of having hospital staffing committees set flexible plans to account for high acuity or high turnover. Patients exposed to below-target levels of nurse staffing or a shift with high patient turnover have a higher mortality
The political climate is a torrid one in modern times! Media headlines are filled with politicians body slamming reporters for asking about health care reform, misconduct allegations and tweets that should never be tweeted! Has the time come for politicians to step aside and let nurses take the lead in the political arena?
The average citizen who has never encountered a nurse in real life may question his or her qualifications in running for a leadership position. What qualifies a nurse to run for a political office? What do you know about leadership? Aren’t you supposed to be at the bedside emptying out bedpans?
Unfortunately, the media often portrays the nursing profession as subservient and powerless. Nurses are an uber-powerful breed! They are taught to assess, diagnose and get down to the nitty gritty of any problem ASAP. They are expert critical thinkers and use evidence-based research. They thrive in chaotic environments, are often placed in life or death situations, and can problem solve to come up with solutions at warp speed! Just the mere fact that nurses spend endless hours in nursing school composing care plans for their patients: organizing care for each patients specific needs shows that they care about the issues and place humanity at a higher level.
When it comes to ethics, Nurses are popular! According to Gallup Polls 2017:
For the 16th consecutive year, Americans’ ratings of the honesty and ethical standards of 22 occupations find nurses at the top of the list. More than eight in 10 (82%) Americans describe nurses’ ethics as “very high” or “high.” In contrast, about six in 10 Americans rate members of Congress (60%) and lobbyists (58%) as “very low” or “low” when it comes to honesty and ethical standards.”Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Why aren’t more Nurses running for office?
“Fear, pure and simple!” stated Dr. Beth Haney DNP, FNP-C, FAANP. “Nurses are leaders when they feel comfortable or empowered. Stepping out of our comfort zone is scary and intimidating. We watch good people run for office and get slammed in the media, who needs that? I say it’s time to jump in and see what happens, no risk equals no progress.”
Dr. Haney ran for the office of Yorba Linda City Council for the state of California in 2016 and won. She had experience serving on boards such as California Nurse Practitioner Association. Apart from being a Nurse Practitioner, she’s a nurse educator and a business owner. Once elected into office, she stated one of the challenges she faced was learning all the fascinating aspects of running a city in a short amount of time. “It was like drinking from a fire hose!”
When asked if other board members took her seriously coming from a nursing background she stated: “Nursing requires critical thinking and evidence to make decisions. This was an easy fit for me. Leading our state NP organization for 2 years and being on the board of directors for 8 years taught me a lot about organizational leadership. This really helped me. However, I knew nothing about the specific departments of my city and that was a mistake on my part. I should have learned more about public works and community development before I ran; it would have made it easier for me. I felt like I had to prove myself to me, and not to anyone else!
Motivation and Passion
“Find something you really care about. Have passion for what you want to do and do something about it!” stated Helen M. Thomson, a registered nurse who has served in several elective offices.
“No one on the school board had children in schools, that’s why I decided to run!”Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Caring about the school board in Davis, California ignited Thomson’s public service career in 1974. She was elected as a member of the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Education and then the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in 1986 and reelected in 1990 and 1994.
In 1996 she won the 8th District seat in the California State Assembly where she served three terms. Thomson chaired both the Health Committee and the Select Committee on Mental Health. Additionally, she served on five other Assembly standing committees, leadership teams of four Speakers and other leadership roles.
“I felt people trusted and listened to me because I was a nurse,” That was her strength in getting 81 bills she authored signed into law by both Democratic and Republican governors. Most notably was AB 88, the mental health parity bill, which ended the discrimination in insurance benefits for those who suffer from mental illness.
Dr. Beth Haney also agrees that being a nurse gives her extra muscle. “I know how to effectively get consensus by articulating my position, and in the end, if I’m out voted or couldn’t convince someone to agree, I’m good with it because I’ve learned from them as well. I’ve learned that my own agenda is not important. I’m working for others. I always have!”
What does a Nurse need in order to run for office?
“If you want to run for a particular office it’s best to know the district. How many democrats and republicans are there? What’s the population comprised of? Get educated. Do your research and know your city. Support of family, friends, and community is important!” advises Thomson.
For Dr. Haney, a strong community base was key. “I had a started a practice in Yorba Linda in 2006, my community base was strong. I see about 3500 patients a year, and one of the Nurse Practitioners who works for me belongs to a huge church community. I have a lot of friends and people who believe in me. I also hired a great campaign manager!”Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Where do you begin?
If you’re thinking, “I can do that! I want run for office, but where do I begin?” you can start by running for a position on your professional nursing organization, board of directors for a nonprofit, nursing school alumni or home owners association board. The best thing to do is get some kind of experience, and see if a leadership role is a good fit for you.
“Serving on boards in your professional organizations helps you to have an idea of how organizations run effectively,” advises Dr. Haney.
“Fill roles at the board of supervisors, advisory committees, and mental health boards. These are areas where nurses can make a huge impact,” states Thomson. Nurses do not need to leave their jobs in order to run for office. Many roles are part time and or voluntary basis.
There are several women’s and community organizations that offer training for people wanting to run for office. Many nursing schools like UC Davis offer leadership training as well.
Running for office can be costly. Campaign managers, advertisements, and time are all key factors that can drive your overhead and possibly detour you from running for political office. But should you wait to run for office until you can afford it?
“Start! Go! Do it!” states Dr. Haney. If you lose the first time you’ll learn so much and will be unstoppable the next time. Don’t wait until you’re ready (You’ll never be ready). Don’t wait until you have the money, you’ll get it if people believe in you!”Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
It’s been rough out in the political world lately!
“Nurses need to grow a thick skin when running for office in today’s political climate. A lack of respect and heated arguments that are currently occurring are driving good people away. Our government is becoming one that is not functional!” Thomson offers this advice for any nurse wanting to run for political office.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
Dr. Haney suggests to “Fine tune and focus your principles and beliefs, you’ll be able to articulate your ideas better.”
Perhaps nurses are the answer to draining the murky waters of the political swamp and making America great again! Issues like health care reform, mental health, opioid addiction, homelessness, and viral outbreaks are reaching epidemic proportions. Career politicians display their ignorance with violent public outbursts. Voting against bills that risk the health and welfare of citizens. We have politicians with no healthcare background making decisions for the mass populations.
When asked if she would run for a second term, Dr. Beth Haney stated, “Yes, I’ll be running for City Council again. I’ve helped the Nurse Practitioner agenda in California by increasing awareness of our profession to a group of elected colleagues from all over the state. Some didn’t know what an NP was! City Council is local politics and this is where things happen that matter to each resident personally. I enjoy being able to impact my own community. As far as another seat, the future is a mystery!”
Beth Thomson is retired from public service. However, even in this tumultuous political climate, she states she would definitely run for office again!
Perhaps George Orwell said it best, “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
Nurses have been viewed as an expense and we need to make sure they understand that our presence adds value to the service we are delivering. Business dislikes regulation, but regulation is one way to keep business interests in check, especially when unchecked practices can harm public health.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
We nurses are pushing for national legislation to mandate evidence-based safe staffing levels in all hospitals. We need legislation because if there is no law, there will be nothing to hold business interests accountable to public health and safety. Despite the sharp political divisions in the country at this time, the biggest threats to public health around nursing care are fear and apathy.
Let’s look at fear from different angles. From the side of those who will fight us, including business interests, the hospital industry, many of our professional nursing organizations, executives and administrators, or those who want less regulation, those who believe profit is the sole reason to be in business, what do they stand to lose?
CEO bonuses might not be as big, profit margins might not be as big, decision-making will need to be shared, more transparency will be necessary, more two-way communication will have to exist, and measures of “productivity” and “efficiency” (in other words, profitability) will take a hit. They stand to lose power and money. Don’t they have enough already?
Management needs to lose their fear. It would make their jobs easier if they were not held to enforcing dangerous standards of productivity and efficiency that squeeze their staff to burnout, having to be the bad guy making cuts all the time.
When the executives are receiving bonuses that are equal to the salary of several full-time nurses, isn’t it time to call them on it? Why should patients have to place themselves in harm’s way so executives can pad their pockets?Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
From the nursing angle, fear is what has traditionally held us back and landed us in the compromising, overpowered, and dependent position we are in now. Gender norms have contributed to our weak leadership skills. We shortchange ourselves by deference to authority, by not insisting on representation, and by self-deprecation, a strategy that devalues us, erodes our self-esteem and belief in ourselves. Many nurses are afraid speaking out or getting involved in political action, a fear that is valid based on our current labor-hostile climate but is completely preventable and must be eradicated.
Pam Robbins, MSN, RN, who presented the talk on political nurse advocacy at Nurses Take DC, tells us that if we want to be effective leaders we must overcome these fears, valuing and believing in ourselves. We need to be making a business case for nurse staffing in a way that we are seen as valued assets, not a labor expense. Too many nurses are terrified they will lose their jobs for speaking up. But if we don’t speak up, it means patient safety is compromised. We cannot afford to risk their lives.
Pam gave many useful tips on being effective in communicating with legislators. The process is slow, she explained, it takes patience, time, and many visits when building a relationship with a legislator. When getting your message across and in negotiation, it is helpful to having one of your team members present to back you up in case you forget an important point or need to elaborate.
Pam’s presentation contained tips on effective negotiation, how to use your voice as a nurse constituent, how to prepare your elevator speech to communicate your message when you visit your legislator, how to focus on the key points that legislators will want to know, and places to become active in your community to contribute and lead as a nurse. Leaders are visible, known and recognizable by the public. When people know you and what you stand for, you will be influential.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
We live in a democracy, but few of us take full advantage of the power it affords us. As citizens, we have the right to vote and make our voices heard, yet only a small percentage of the voting-eligible public votes! Only a miniscule proportion ever gets involved in the legislative process.
If you saw something being done to your patient that would cause them harm, you wouldn’t hesitate to stop it and speak up on behalf of the patient. But when it comes to our country, and public health, safety, and well-being, few nurses use their advocacy skills.
If nurses would think of our country as their patient, insist on only the highest quality care being given, and protect the public from harm, we would make great strides.
What We Need to Do
Lose your fear. There is power in numbers, and by banding together, we can help each other deliver a stronger message. When a colleague expresses a need to change things, don’t treat them as if they were radioactive. Instead, get behind them, support them, and bring others on board. Don’t downplay the achievements of your colleagues. Don’t put them or yourself down.
Stop making it about political affiliations. Nurses don’t refuse care based on a patient’s political views. This is about everyone, we are all potential patients. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, pro-union or anti-union, or from a red, blue, or purple state. This is about the public’s best interest—that’s all of us.
Nursing education must start preparing nurses with skills on political advocacy, negotiation, and articulating the value of our profession to the public. If we can get the public to understand what we do, and articulate that clearly, we can show that healthcare is not all about medicine and physicians. The holistic approach to nursing care is what moves patients away from illness and toward wellness.
In Pam’s presentation, she discussed the results of polls of public opinion leaders conducted in 2009 as reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2010). According to those findings, while opinion leaders perceive nurses as the most trusted profession, they also perceive nurses as having little influence over healthcare reform in the near future. Nurses were not perceived as important decision makers or revenue generators, or that we have a single unified voice on national issues.
To paraphrase Pam’s lesson based on the poll findings cited above, the public views nurses as carrying out the instructions of doctors and other higher status players-rather than being informed by education, evidence and experience, or being deliberate, thoughtful, and strategic in our actions.Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper
I ask you to look at the different nurse staffing bills in front of Congress. Compare them. They are similar in many ways, but note the American Nurses Association’s bill (S. 2446 and H.R. 5052) does not include a mandate for employers to commit to a staffing plan for their employees, in writing.
The Nurses Take DC bill (S. 1063 and H.R. 2392) does have such a mandate. Employers would not be able to avoid the staffing plan mandate. This protects both nurses and patients.
In both bills, both are based on evidence, but unless you have a regulation that holds the employers accountable, you have nothing. We must also hold our employers, as well as our professional organizations, accountable, and demand transparency. Nurses In Politics Assignment Paper