The role of nurses in driving policy change and medical advancements

Nurses are often very involved in the many stages of patient care, giving them insight into where processes can be improved and where they a...

The role of nurses in driving policy change and medical advancements
Nurses are often very involved in the many stages of patient care, giving them insight into where processes can be improved and where they are working well. They play a critical role in driving policy and implementing significant healthcare changes and protocols, and they can use their extensive experience to help ensure the right decisions are made. Nurses often base these decisions on their knowledge as well as research. As frontline healthcare workers, they are usually drivers of change. Here is a look at the various ways nurses can participate in policy change.

Making decisions based on knowledge and research

When it comes to medical care and health decisions, there can be a lot of emotions at play. Although policymakers may have good intentions, it is easy to let emotions play more of a role than they should. Policies must be based on proven research and facts from highly skilled and educated scientists and medical professionals. Nurses can help policymakers and officials by consulting with them on essential policies and helping them understand the facts and theories they need to make the right decisions.

Advocating for positive changes

As frontline healthcare workers, few professionals are better positioned than nurses to notice where changes are needed regarding healthcare. 

Nurses who speak up when there is a problem and help create solutions are invaluable to society. Without their input, problems can cause harm for a considerable amount of time before the public notices them.

An excellent example of a common problem is the lack of access to health care among some disadvantaged populations and older people. Bringing this to the attention of local and national policymakers and nonprofit organizations can help increase access to healthcare and essential related services. 

One major problem for some people may be a need for transportation or having to work during the same hours that medical appointments are typically conducted. In this case, nurses may advocate for better coverage of transportation costs or more telehealth and over-the-phone visits for medical issues and checkups that can be performed without an in-person visit.

Bringing primary and urgent care to more communities

Deciding where medical clinics are needed most is an example of policy decisions that require input from experienced nurses and healthcare workers. Nurses get to know their patient bases and many of the challenges they face. For example, if it seems like a lot of people are coming to the emergency room for minor to moderate problems that are not life-threatening, this can indicate that there is a need for an urgent care clinic in the area to address non-emergencies that require attention sooner than a traditional appointment would provide. 

People also need to be educated in using these clinics instead of emergency rooms. There is a mindset that you need to go to the ER when you need medical care and cannot immediately see your doctor, and this can lead to emergency rooms being overcrowded with people who could have been served by a clinic. Moreover, urgent care clinics help reduce healthcare costs because they are more affordable than visiting an emergency room. 

Overall, there is a higher level of care offered when patients use the appropriate type of facility for whatever problem they need help with.

Recognizing trends like this one is much easier when you consult with nurses and other professionals who observe healthcare habits every day and can offer input.

Medical research is important for a healthier future

Nurses, particularly advanced care nurses, have a lot of opportunities to participate in or lead important medical research. Over the years, the experience that nurses gain is invaluable to research teams. Innovations in medical treatments, including new therapies, vaccines, and medications, are possible thanks to teams of medical professionals, including nurses at all levels of the healthcare industry.

How can nurses get involved in policy?

Getting involved in policy making is not as difficult as it sounds. A nurse’s level of influence is going to depend on factors such as experience and how much effort they are willing to put into influencing policy. You do not need to have any experience in policy making to get involved and start making even more of an impact on the medical field.

Join professional organizations and get involved

There are many great reasons to join professional medical organizations. Networking with other healthcare workers can help the doors to opportunities that you might have never known were there. This includes playing a role in policy and research.

Nursing organizations, such as the American Nurses Association and the Academy of Nursing, are some of the larger organizations in the field. State and local organizations are also good options. These groups organize efforts to create policy changes and are always looking for other dedicated nurses to help. This may include serving on boards to help draft and direct policy, writing letters to policy makers and government officials, and campaigning to help educate the public.

Learn how legislative decisions are made

The process of drafting, proposing, and getting the support needed for a new policy or making a change can be lengthy. It is important for any nurse who wants to have an impact or be heavily involved in healthcare policies to learn how the legislative process works. It may be possible to attend legislative sessions so you can make the best use of your policy making efforts in the future.

Use evidence-based information to guide policymakers

It can be challenging, even a well-educated person, to interpret medical facts or find information if they do not have a medical background. Nurses can influence policy by presenting evidence-based facts to support a policy or change. Facts should be presented in a clear and easy-to-understand format. Using charts and graphics to interpret real data and facts is helpful.

Consider becoming involved in politics

Supporting candidates who take healthcare and effective policies seriously is a good way to contribute to overall policy in your area.

If you are politically minded and have the experience needed to be taken seriously by voters and your peers, you might consider running for a political position yourself. This is typically a career move that someone considers later in their career, but even if you are a mid-career nurse, you may have a lot of knowledge that could make you a great candidate for certain positions. Keep in mind, however, that politics is about more than just healthcare policy, so this type of position is not for everyone.

Educate the public about important healthcare topics

Thanks to social media, it is easy to share a lot of information with a wide range of people at little to no cost. Although your influence may be greater with a small budget for boosted posts, building a following on social media and using it as a platform for educating the public can help policies and changes have a real chance of being approved.

It is important to remember that great communication skills are imperative when drafting influential messages about important healthcare topics. Keep in mind that whatever you write is going to be read by your peers and coworkers.  

Joining groups beyond professional organizations can be helpful as many nonprofit groups lobby for important reforms and changes.

Earn an advanced degree

Individuals who choose to continually expand their knowledge, whether by self-study or by obtaining additional degrees, can further benefit their community and they gain credibility. When it comes to having a positive impact in the world of medicine, earning a post-graduate degree can aid you achieve your goals with the potential to earn a higher income and advance your nursing career. A post-graduate degree provides you with further knowledge and skills that will better aid in policy making.

If you currently hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, consider enrolling in one of the BSN to MSN programs online from Wilkes University. This program allows current RNs to earn their degree online, which provides some flexibility for students who are currently working and handling family responsibilities. The program is designed to enable students to complete their degree in a shorter space of time than other similar degrees. It also offers clinical placement services that meet the national guidelines for clinical requirements. 

Completing a BSN to MSN program allows nurses to specialize within certain nurse practitioner concentrations, which can provide them with skills and knowledge that enable them to aid in policy making. These specializations are focused on advanced clinical skills and evidence-based practice to improve patient care.

A BSN to MSN Nurse Practitioner online degree program allows nurses to specialize in areas such as psychiatric mental health, family nurse practitioner, or adult gerontology nurse practitioner. All these concentrations are in very high demand and will vastly increase the job opportunities and earning potential of any nurse.

Primary care is in short supply

These days, more people have better access to affordable health insurance, and this has led to a surge in people seeking care.

The need for primary care will lead to the creation of more standalone clinics and urgent care centers to meet demand. Advanced practice nurses such as nurse practitioners can help fill the primary care gaps in communities throughout the nation.

Nurse practitioners can greatly improve the health care of a community by encouraging preventative healthcare visits and screenings. By catching conditions before they become more serious, a lot of pain and suffering can be avoided. This can also help to reduce healthcare costs.

In the future, nurse practitioners will be the professionals who help to alleviate the shortage in primary care appointments because RNs can be trained to be NPs in just two years. This is much quicker than the decade it can take for an MD to be ready to fully practice.

Mental health services face increasing demand

One field of medicine that has seen a particularly high rise in demand is mental health. Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse rates are high, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Many communities are suffering from a lack of mental health services. People who would have an excellent chance of overcoming their challenges are suffering needlessly simply because there are not enough resources for them to get the care they need.

Becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse can allow you to advance your career while fulfilling a very important need in your community. Tackling substance abuse in particular is going to be one of the major challenges in the mental health community moving forward. With care and support, people can go on to lead healthy and productive lives.

Nurses will drive future healthcare reform 

With more people than ever before seeking out healthcare, it is important for nurses and other experienced medical professionals to be on the lookout for changes that could have a positive impact on the healthcare of people from all backgrounds.

In the coming decades, the stress and demands placed on the medical system will continue to grow due to a large population of aging adults and more people than ever living with chronic conditions.

Healthcare policies will need to reflect the needs and values of the current population, and new medical research and treatments will arise that will drive policy changes based on evidence.



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Seems Healthy | About Health, Diseases, Psychology, Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle: The role of nurses in driving policy change and medical advancements
The role of nurses in driving policy change and medical advancements
Seems Healthy | About Health, Diseases, Psychology, Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle
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