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An Activist Looks at Nursirtg’s Role
in Health Policy Development
Stephanie L. Ferguson, PhD, RN, FAAN
-Health care delivery systems are evolving and
transforming rapidly. Nurses will need new leader-
ship and policy skills to meet the challenge of ensur-
ing patient care safety and quality health care deliv-
ery. Nurses bring a unique perspective to health
care policy development because of their educa-
tional training, professional values and ethics,
advocacy skills, and experiential background. Sig-
nificant progress has occurred over the years
toward advancing nursing’s presence, role, and
influence in the development of health care policy.
However, more nurses need to learn how to identify
issues strategically; work with decision makers;
understand who holds the power in the workplace,
communities, state and federal level organizations;
and understand who controls the resources for health
care services. In health care policy development,
nurses are essential in ensuring quality health care
that is accessible and affordable for all women and
their infants. More nurses need to actively work as
leaders in the health policy arena. JOGNN, 30,
546-551 ; 2001.
Keywords: Activist-Health policy develop-
ment-Nurses in politics
Accepted: March 2001
Nurses bring a unique perspective to health care
policy development because of their educational
training, professional values and ethics, advocacy
skills, and experiential background. Significant
progress has occurred over the years in advancing
nursing’s presence, role, and influence in the
health care policy development arena. Nurses have
historically been active in policy development and
politics. Examples of nurse leaders include Flo-
rence Nightingale, Sojourner Truth, Lillian Wald,
and Margaret Sanger. These women played an extra-
ordinary and significant role in health care policy
development and women’s and infants’ health.
Nurses’...