The process of developing health policy should be pluralistic and inclusive of all nurse leaders who work in policy-making roles. Nurse leaders must proactively reassess their own roles in health policy formulation and work to formalize these positions through job descriptions that incorporate participation in policy formation. (Shariff, 2014) Nurse leaders, through their professional organizations and roles, must lobby and create an enabling atmosphere that encourages nurses to participate more actively in this arena. (Shariff, 2014) There are many reasons why nurses do not actively engage in lobbying efforts, a low level of awareness, insufficient skills, and limited opportunities for participation are only a few of the causes. (Shariff, 2014) Another impediment is the nursing profession’s lack of formal health-care policy education. Resources and time are further barriers to the nursing profession’s involvement in politics. (Shariff, 2014)
Nurses can utilize a range of strategies to urge themselves and their coworkers to become politically involved and fight for specific topics such as healthcare policy changes. Political participation was defined as nurses’ participation in activities that were considered political in nature. (Alhassan et al., 2019) Voting, campaigning, joining rallies, volunteering, addressing elected officials, working with others on local problems or concerns, and becoming a member of nursing or non-nursing groups that take positions on political matters were among these actions. (Alhassan et al., 2019) A good example that nurses can use is to protest outside of a healthcare facility while using poster boards and signs.
• What are the reasons many nurses do not actively engage in lobbying efforts?
o There are many reasons that can deter nurse from actively engaging in lobbying efforts. Shariff stated, “major factors acting as barriers to participation include inadequate political and policy developmental skills, lack of status of women that also shapers the image of nursing, lack of education and lack of supportive organizational structures (2014). Nurses may also feel that they do not have the power or to make change at large levels or they are excluded from health policy development (Shariff, 2014). I also think that because nurses operate at such a different level than policy makers that they may feel that it is out of reach or not within their scope of practice. I think that it is important for nurses to advocate for change and policies when fit because they are the ones that see patients every day and have opinions of what needs to be improved or changed.
• What actions can nurses take to encourage themselves and their peers to get involved politically and lobby for specific issues such as healthcare policy changes? Provide a detailed example.
o I think nurses should educate themselves on policy development. Nurses are the frontline workers that are exposed to issues that arise with patients. There are also communities that foster nurse participation and education on global health and how to improve in healthcare through many factors including policy development. One of these is the “One World, One Health” global community (Premji & Hatfield, 2016). This group’s focus is to inspire and inform nurses to engage in research, policy, and health practice to help improve and sustain global health (Premji & Hatfield, 2016). I also think that nurses should collaborative with their healthcare team through meetings to identify changes that need to be made. Once topics are investigated and researched, they should take the next steps to implement change. Healthcare is ever changing and nurses being the frontline workers have the power to identify practice that need to be enhanced through their day-to-day practice. It is important that they realize the power they have and to be diligent in improving the healthcare work force.