The US healthcare system is continually evolving and, as an essential part of the system, nurses play a major role in the implementation of changes that currently take place. Nevertheless, it is valid to say that nurses are traditionally more engaged in the implementation of policies rather than their development. At the same time, many researchers and healthcare organizations, including the Institute of Medicine and the American Nurses Association (ANA), emphasize the importance of empowering nursing practitioners to influence policies and advocate for necessary reforms.
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Nurses have an advantageous position in the healthcare system that allows them to closely evaluate patient needs and understand which factors prevent hospitals from providing high-quality, accessible medical services. One of the hottest topics in the field of policymaking that is directly related to the problem of quality care and fulfillment of patient needs is the attempted reform of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the ANA (n.d.), the abolition of the ACA would put the well-being of Americans at risk by reducing the number of covered individuals by millions. Additionally, such an action may result in a significant increase in healthcare costs (especially for older and low- and middle-income people) and loss of funding for prevention services and programs (ANA, n.d.). The ANA undertakes significant efforts to oppose the attempted repeal of the ACA by advocating for a more effective health system transformation and actively engaging in dialogue with the government and policymakers.
It is clear that the ANA is at the forefront of the advocacy for patient safety and the improvement of nursing practice, and it has profound experience in formulating policies and lobbying ideas. Thus, ANA membership can provide multiple advantages for the professional development of nurses who want to engage in policymaking more actively. Policy influence starts with the development of policy literacy, policy acumen, and policy competence, which refer to an ability to identify the right content of policies and analyze them both contextually and realistically (Arabi, Rafii, Cheraghi, & Ghiyasvandian, 2014). Thus, it is clear that to be successful in political activism, a nurse must first develop all these necessary skills. By becoming a member of the ANA, one will be able to tap into a broad pool of knowledge acquired by the organization throughout the years of its work. The membership may support nurses’ professional advancement in the sphere of advocacy and policymaking.
American Nurses Association. n.d. Health system reform. Web.
Arabi, A., Rafii, F., Cheraghi, M. A., & Ghiyasvandian, S. (2014). Nurses’ policy influence: A concept analysis. Iranian journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 19(3), 315-22.