I believe that nurses can be involved in policy-making and policy evaluation because they spend the most time with patients. Therefore, they can be advocates with governments and regulatory agencies. Myers (2020) notes that “Nurses need to advocate for systematic change, inclusive of the many factors that interact to determine health” (p. 14). Additionally, if we speak about the policy process, nurses should also be involved with its evaluation to see the direct effect on patients.
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The adopted program evaluation is the fourth step of the whole policy-making cycle. It ends “after the policy is evaluated to determine to what extent it has been implemented and whether it has achieved the desired outcome” (Clifton et al., p. 25). Nurses have an essential role here as, for example, they can watch the patient’s health state during a new program of cancer or diabetes treatment. That is why it is crucial to get them involved in the policy-making cycle.
There are at least two opportunities for RNs and APRNs to participate in a policy review actively. First of all, it is a policy draft that is necessary because it presents the effect of the policy on social and individual levels. Whitehead et al. (2017) note that “it is a nurse’s professional and societal responsibility to answer the call and provide a voice for the voiceless” (p. 73). Nurses can do it by making and publishing the policy draft. Secondly, policy analysis is another opportunity that follows the previous one more deeply in evaluating the significance of a proposed program; it includes the introduction, process definition, analysis, and critical policy events. However, there are challenges in using these opportunities, for example, if nurses emphasize the necessity of implementing new technologies to treat coronavirus patients. Economically vested lobbies may interfere because it is unprofitable for them. In this case, nurses need to prove the validity of their decision more clearly and justifiably, publicizing its importance widely at the same time.
The first strategy to communicate opportunities to participate in a policy review is teaching writing policy drafts during education. The second one is making the ability to write these drafts a prerequisite for employment. Therefore, nurses must know how to participate in a policy review as an essential part of their profession. This knowledge and skill should become usual for them as professionals. They may practice making policy drafts and analyses during education and prove their skill in employment.
Clifton, A., Felton, A., Stacey, G., Hemingway, S. (Eds.). (2017). Fundamentals of Mental Health Nursing. An Essential Guide for Nursing and Healthcare Students. Wiley.
Myers, C. R. (2020). Promoting Health: Nurse Advocacy, Policy Making, and Use of Media. In a K. A. Wolgast (Ed.), Building Innovative Nurse Leaders at the Point of Care, An Issue of Nursing Clinics (pp. 11-20). Elsevier Health Sciences.
Whitehead, D. K., Dittman, P. W., McNulty, D. (2017). Leadership and the Advanced Practice Nurse. The Future of a Changing Health-Care Environment. F.A. Davis Company.
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