PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: Policy and politics: Why nurses should get involved
Fredrik Oestberg MSN, RN

December 2012 
Volume 42  Number 12
Pages 46 - 49
  PDF Version Available!

NURSES ARE SOMETIMES frustrated by regulations or policies directing nursing practice, especially when they're generated by those with little knowledge of healthcare. A growing number of nurses have used this frustration to fuel productive changes and become nurse advocates. They've taken on this new role to influence and change the policies, laws, and regulations that dictate our practice and how the larger healthcare system works.By knowing how the system works and what strategies can effectively influence policy, any nurse can become an advocate at the local, state, or federal level. Examples of nurse advocacy include making phone calls to elected representatives about bills under consideration, giving testimony before committees, becoming involved in practice councils or boards at the work place, and even running for elected office.This article tells nurses how to make their voice heard, become involved, share their personal stories with decision makers, and do their part to improve nursing practice and the quality of care for all our patients.As direct caregivers, nurses spend more time with patients than those in most other disciplines. What nurses do has a huge impact on the care our patients receive. (See .) Decision makers need to hear from all nurses, from the experienced nurse advocate to the direct care nurse. 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.Since the days of Florence Nightingale, nurses have advocated for their patients' health. Nursing advocacy looks at this role on a larger scale, whether it's on a local, state, or federal level. By speaking up and influencing decision makers to implement policies to improve working conditions for nurses, nurses are ultimately advocating for their patients.Nurses also advocate for safety initiatives. For example, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was signed into law in 2000 because of the work

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