Advocacy is an important aspect of nursing practice since it helps nurses advocate for their patients and provide high-quality care. According to Vitale et al. (2019), nursing advocacy means creating “a supportive atmosphere for the patient’s decision-making process” and helping them discover the significance of various life processes (p. 64). Moreover, society expects nurses to provide caring services through protection, promotion, information, optimization of well-being and facilities, and “advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations” (Fowler, 2015, p. 20). Thus, nurses serve as healthcare providers and advocates for their patients, and they should be involved in public policies to promote health equity, justice, and fairness.
Nurses should get involved in public health policies to promote health equity, justice, and fairness and address the social determinants of health (SDOH). SDOH include patients’ socioeconomic status, housing, education, transportation, food security, social support, and physical environment (Williams et al., 2018, para. 7). If a person lives in poor social and economic conditions, their health outcomes will be poor too. The role of a nurse is to discover the social and environmental conditions and select appropriate advocacy opportunities to address these issues on a public level.
Social policies have a great impact on health, and nurses can improve the existing policies based on their patients’ needs. For instance, when children experience food insecurity, they can develop various impairments and diseases, including diabetes and obesity. Thus, nurses should participate in school nutrition programs and federal nutrition programs to advocate for school subsidies to support free or reduced-price meals for school-age children (Williams et al., 2018). Moreover, they can promote and support the development of local community gardens to cultivate fruit and vegetables for school communities. These and other recommendations will help nurses get involved in public health policies and improve patient health outcomes.
Nurses can advocate for individual health, population health, and staff health. The first step nurses should take to get involved in health policies is to access policy training programs. Such programs will teach nurses to be politically savvy to help address the existing policies, gain access to resources, and use them wisely to improve patients’ health (Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019, p. 303). At the same time, nurses should investigate which policies matter most to them and which legislators support such policies. After that, nurses should join professional nursing organizations, which usually help bring nursing issues to the U.S. Congress.
In addition, nurse practitioners can appeal to their state representatives, informing them about their concerns regarding healthcare policies. Nurses can also commence internship programs with elected representatives to work on aspects that influence health care. They can even serve in legislative offices to advocate for public health personally. Finally, nurses can educate their communities, raise public awareness about health measures, and provide public comment at the local government level. All these steps can help nurses get involved in public health policies and improve patient health outcomes in their communities.
In conclusion, nursing advocacy is an important aspect of a nurse’s job. Since nurse practitioners have direct contact with patients, they can educate them and advocate for those in need. Nurses can mediate between patients and physicians and the government, making public concerns known to other providers and health organizations. They can advance policies that will benefit patient health, providing detailed examples of instances in which current policies were ineffective. Nurses should actively participate in policy training programs and join nursing organizations to achieve these goals.
Fowler, M. D. (2015). Guide to nursing’s social policy statement: Understanding the profession from social contract to social covenant. American Nurses Association.
Turale, S., & Kunaviktikul, W. (2019). The contribution of nurses to health policy and advocacy requires leaders to provide training and mentorship. Nursing and Health Policy Perspectives, 66(3), 302-304. Web.
Vitale, E., Germini, F., Massaro, M., & Fortunato, R. S. (2019). How patients and nurses defined advocacy in nursing? A review of the literature. Journal of Health, Medicine and Nursing, 63, 64-69. Web.
Williams, S. D., Phillips, J. M., & Koyama, K. (2018). Nurse advocacy: Adopting a health in all policies approach. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 23, 3. Web.