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Nurse’s Role in Influencing the Legislative Process

Nurses’ Influence on Different Stages of the Lawmaking Process

The process of lawmaking in the United States is rather complex and involves multiple stages. According to Mason, Gardner, Outlaw, and O’Grady (2015), after the bill is introduced, it is referred to various committees and subcommittees before reaching the floor action and participating in the voting process. After the bill gained the majority vote in both parts of the Congress, a conference action takes place, which determines whether or not the bill is passed to the U.S. President (Mason et al., 2015). Nurses can influence every stage of this process using their expertise and connections to influential nursing organizations.

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For instance, during the preliminary stage of issue identification, nurses can draw the lawmakers’ attention to an important health policy problem, thus affecting the subject of the bill. As the bill is referred to committees or subcommittees, nurses can provide testimony and information to committee members in order to influence their decisions regarding the bill. Lobbying efforts can also take place between referral to a subcommittee and the floor action. Even at the final stages of the lawmaking process, nurses can send letters to the President, causing them to veto or sign the bill approved by the Congress. Thus, nurses have a powerful influence throughout the lawmaking process and can advocate for patients using their knowledge and experience.

Ways for Nurses to Influence the Lawmaking Process

There are two main ways in which nurses can impact the passage of a bill through the Congress. Firstly, nurses can act as constituents, individual members of the electorate in their district (Mason et al., 2015). Secondly, nurses can work as part of influential nursing associations that lobby Congress, including the American Nurses Association, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and others (Mason et al., 2015). The second option allows nurses to act with the support of other advocates and gain more collective power, thus being more effective in influencing the passage of a bill. Many nurses are members of professional associations, and it is easy for them to obtain support from fellow nurses.

Nurses’ Role in Policy Changes Affecting Social Determinants

Social determinants have a significant impact on people’s health, and thus often require policy action. The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP, 2014) states that social determinants of health include factors such as public safety, social support, availability of resources, access to jobs and education, culture, and social attitudes. The social determinant selected for this assignment is socioeconomic conditions. Research shows that low socioeconomic status has a critical effect on health, particularly because it affects people’s living conditions and their access to health care (Lago et al., 2018). An example of a legislative action that could help to address this problem is opening health clinics providing free health services to low-income communities.

Nurses can play a role of patient advocates in promoting this legislative change. For instance, they could obtain support from a professional association, such as the ANA, and draw attention of Congress members to the problem by sending letters or arranging face-to-face meetings with a local representative. Then, nurses can provide the chosen member of the Congress with information to help draft the bill and offer testimony to committees and subcommittees engaged in the further stages of the process.


Lago, S., Cantarero, D., Rivera, B., Pascual, M., Blázquez-Fernández, C., Casal, B., & Reyes, F. (2018). Socioeconomic status, health inequalities and non-communicable diseases: A systematic review. Journal of Public Health, 26(1), 1-14.

Mason, D. J., Gardner, D. B., Outlaw, F. H., & O’Grady, E. T. (Eds.). (2015). Policy & politics in nursing and health care (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

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Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). (2014). Social determinants of health. Web.

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