Nurse leaders are aware that today’s health care system has many issues complicating the goal of quality patient care and outcomes for all. Nurse leaders must stay informed and become involved as an advocate influencing changes in policy, laws, and/or regulations that govern the health care system they practice in. At times the advocacy requires a nurse leader to become more involved beyond their immediate level of practice and into the world of politics and policy.
The health care practice arena is impacted by decisions made by our legislative bodies at the federal and state levels. The changes in health care delivery methods, together with the political process and politicians' increased involvement in health care development and policy making, have left nurses in the position of needing to influence the processes.
Carol Huston (2008) shared that in preparing nurse leaders for the future there are essential competencies they must possess. The competencies will prepare the nurse leaders to handle the chaos and unpredictability that the health care system is in today and will be in the future. Huston (2008) shared that nurse leaders must begin to prepare to be effective leaders by: developing a global mindset about health care and professional nursing issues; increase their technology skills; perfect their decision-making ability; create an organizational culture that gives quality health care and patient and staff safety; develop an understanding and appropriate interventions in political processes; develop collaborative and team building abilities; and develop the ability to envision and adapt to rapid change and chaos. Preparing a nurse to lead in current and future health care environments, must include the use of the resources available from nursing professional organizations. Use of Professional Organizations
Joining and becoming involved in professional organizations will heighten a nurse leader’s knowledge level about the issues in the political arena that need input from nurses and that will affect the delivery of health care. Changes are often necessary in facility policy and services involved in the delivery of the managed care environment due to changes in regulations, laws and/or national health care policy. Nursing professional organizations can keep nurses current with the many changes that are made at the national, state and local levels. Although membership is not always mandatory to get the information available from the many organizations, a collective voice is a stronger advocate for change when the organization’s membership joins together to present the professions viewpoint on various reform issues. As a member you can receive emailed responses to political actions that the organization is involved in. There are newsletters that update political actions being taken, updates to standards that have been written, opportunities that are available to become involved in and articles about how nursing practice and competencies are currently being effected by evidence research, and how a nurse leader can become a member of a committee formed to work on how the organization should take action about current issues.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) (2011, About ANA) maintains that it “is the
only full-service professional organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.1 million
registered nurses through its constituent member nurses associations and its organizational
affiliates”. The ANA offers the improvement and advancement of the nursing profession by
contributing to the creation of a professional culture, by promoting the rights of nurses in the
workplace, by projecting a positive view of nursing, by establishing, maintaining and enforcing
the professions code of ethics, by stabilizing nursing standard’s of practice and by lobbying the
Congress as well as regulatory agencies on health care issues that will affect...