NURSES AND POLITICAL AWARENESS
The nursing environment is very complex and is prone to malpractice encompassing negligence by health care professionals. Traditionally, nurses used to implement what the physicians requested, but today, this has changed and nurses can diagnose patients, treat and even prescribe the medications. With increased responsibility, nurses are subject to professional liability, they are more prone since they make the first contact with the patients even before they see the physicians (Williams, 2003). This paper discusses on how nurse leaders can use professional organizations to stay aware of political actions. It further illustrates the importance f doing so.
Political Awareness in Nursing and Health Care Industry
The health care environment consists of policies, laws and regulations that have been imposed by government agencies, health institutions, and insurers in the private sector. They challenge nurses and even patients who find themselves caught up min issues to do with quality health care. Nurses have the capacity to shape health by initiating policy proposals, changing or supporting the proposal presented by others as well as implementing those health policies. Nurses have the opportunity to work with organizations sponsoring annual state legislative days to improve on the legislative knowledge. In those programs, policy internships and fellowships are provided. They are given an opportunity to learn from experienced nurse advocates who serve them as mentors to guide them on what is expected of them. Such mentors have reported how they have seen in experienced nurses grow in legislative experience to make a difference in their professions. They also need to work with professional lobbyists for them to be part of the health policy decision making process (Abood, 2007).
When nurses join professional associations, they get access to resources and get the opportunity to monitor the public policy and learn them well. These professional associations offer the nurses with the right tools and information to ensure that they elect candidates who support nursing and remain in office to continue supporting them (Williams, 2003). Nurses have the potential to represent their views and be heard since they are empowered to do so. Nurses are the biggest group in health care provision and this can be a source of power to reform the system based on their numbers alone. They have the majority votes and should utilize this to bring change in health care. Their expertise and the license to practice also give them a voice since they have the knowledge and skills to support their proposals (Abood, 2007).
Policies related to public health come from the local, state and federal legislators, regulations, rulings from courts. They govern health care provision. Therefore, nurses should work with them to ensure that these policies are in line with health care expectations. Others come from institutions like hospitals, managed care organizations and accrediting organizations. Most nurses are familiar with the institutional policies. Integrating this knowledge and participation with that of public policy empowers them to transform the health care industry. Knowledge saves them from professional malpractice and promotes the quality of health care that patients receive. Since these policies are subject to modification depending on the changing circumstances, they rely on politics a lot. The elected officials and other representative’s influence the decisions made. If nurses are knowledgeable they can indirectly influence these decisions by voting officials that support health care needs best (Abood, 2007).
It is important for nurses to stay with the current health care related policies not only to protect the nursing practice but also the environment in which they work in. This helps in creating better nurses and provides patients with the safest environments. Knowledge is a resource that gives nurses power to influence the policy changes and implementation depending on the officials that they choose to represent them. They form part of the players in the legislative process through the organized interest groups.
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