One way for RNs/APRNs to become involved in policy making is to run for office.

One way for RNs/APRNs to become involved in policy making is to run for office. In 2023 in the state of Maryland, there were no legislators that held licensure as a RN or APRN (Curley, D., 2023). There were “68 nurse legislators… serving in 34 States” except for “California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, & Wyoming” (Curley, D., 2023). From 2015 to 2023 there was over a 50% decline in nurses serving legislatively (Curley, D., 2023). There was decline due to COVID-19, the extensive burnout in the field, the increase number of baby boomers retiring and the growing workforce needs; however legislation itself is helping to entice nurses to the field and boost the numbers again (Resseter, R., 2022). The “AACN is advocating for federal legislation and increased funding for nursing education; promoting a post-baccalaureate nurse residency program…; encouraging innovation in nursing programs, including the development of fast-track programs…; and working with partner organizations to highlight careers in nursing, including those requiring graduate level preparation” (Resseter, R., 2022).

 

While some nurses cannot commit to day shift advocacy due to their job or family commitments or the long hours, “every nurse can participate in a small way, such as supporting nursing associations or writing to their state or federal representatives” (Morris, G., 2023). By support nursing associations, we can still fight causes in a unified, professional approach and make a difference.

 

One additional barrier that deters nurses from being active in policy making decisions and advocacy is due to lack of knowledge. Luckily, some local universities are combating the decrease of nurse advocacy in policy making; “Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Nursing will launch a new program in 2023 to teach nursing students about policymaking” and “The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) is embedding policy discussions and advocacy initiatives throughout its curriculum (Brahm, N., 2022). While this will aid in the deficient of policy making nurses, another approach to gaining this knowledge is attending legislative sessions or meetings (Brahm, N., 2022). This information is public knowledge and individuals can attend during days or times convenient to them.

 

I think mentorship, similar to that during clinical rotation, would be a huge step to aid nurses in understanding our impact goes far beyond a patient and/or our unit. With the exception of this program, there has not been much discussion of nurses advocating at legislative levels or outside of the hospital setting. If this topic was discussed more in ADN and BSN programs, I think it would be a help. Additionally, if hospitals helped support nurses to grow in this area, similar to how nurse educators meet with nurses to push professional development in regards to advanced degrees or certifications, this would be a huge step. Unfortunately depending upon the topic, I think some hospitals may be hesitant especially if advocating for a topic that would benefit the nurse more then the hospital, such as safer nurse-patient ratios.

 

References

 

Brahm, N. (2022, December 23). Nursing schools teach advocacy skills to help Advance Health Equity. Insight Into Diversity. https://www.insightintodiversity.com/nursing-schools-teach-advocacy-skills-to-help-advance-health-equity/Links to an external site.

 

Curley, D. (2023, January 1). Nurse Legislators 2023: Numbers and Trends. ANA. https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/advocacy/state/Links to an external site.

 

Morris, G. (2023, November 10). 10 ways nurses can get involved in policy. Nurse Journal. https://nursejournal.org/articles/ways-nurses-can-get-involved-in-policy/Links to an external site.

 

Rosseter, R. (2022, October). Nurse shortage fact sheet – aacnnursing.org. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. https://www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/0/PDFs/Fact-Sheets/Nursing-Shortage-Factsheet.pdf

One way for RNs/APRNs to become involved in policy making is to run for office.

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