Nurses constitute one of the main professional groups in the healthcare sector. It follows that they have a profound impact on policy formulation and implementation. Additionally, their numbers and role also have a significant influence by changing the existing policies where necessary. For this reason, nurses should advocate on behalf of other healthcare professionals across health care various healthcare roles and environments. In this case, they would have captured and exploited emerging opportunities. Logically, it is important for any nurse to work with others in ensuring that necessary policy changes are made where necessary. Despite the profession’s strengths intrinsic to its diversity, size, and distinctive relationship with the public, the nurses’ full potential as key stakeholders or influencers has not been fully exploited. Rationally, most of the problems faced by the nursing profession and the entire healthcare sector are rooted in policies. Focusing on this aspect, this paper explores some of the nursing policy areas that need attention.
Nursing Policy Areas that Need Attention
One of the key changes or reforms that need attention regards educational and staffing policies. There is an urgent need to increase the number of nurses with baccalaureate degrees and encourage nurses with diplomas and associate degrees to join baccalaureate programs soon after graduation. In recognition of the observation that education creates a difference in clinical practice, baccalaureate programs should be a central educational pillar of the professional. Baccalaureate degree holders have impeccable patient outcomes in terms of lower failure-to-rescue and mortality rates (AACN, 2011). Besides, proficiency in making nursing diagnoses and evaluating interventions helps nurses demonstrate professionalism and improved research skills. To achieve these changes, nurses should co-operate with the government to ensure that investments in nursing career ladder programs are increased. Additionally, the government should improve its support for baccalaureate programs through funding frameworks like the Nursing Workforce Development initiatives.
The other area that warrants every policy maker’s attention regards leadership development within nursing education programs. At the same line, nurses should champion improved interdisciplinary education (AACN, 2011). In that respect, the health care system will improve quality, affordability, and efficiency delivered by qualified professionals who employ the full scope of their nursing education and training. As highlighted above, high-quality care depends on the adequate supply of nursing professionals. Therefore, nurses must campaign for the increased investment in a mix of highly skilled providers, especially nurses prepared for both leadership and clinical roles (Huber, 2013). Consequentially, nurses will complement their colleagues’ skills and knowledge. In that line of thinking, inter-disciplinary learning should be supported from various fronts.
Lastly, nurses should gather enough data concerning remuneration to ensure that policies regarding their salary and benefits packages provide sufficient information. Timely and accurate data would be used to create competitive packages, which would, in turn, be used to address the nursing shortage. Reasonably, competitive remuneration packages would encourage more students to undertake the nursing profession. In the same context, nursing educators should be well compensated to improve the number of educators. A good salary would not only lure nurses to undertake doctoral degrees but also limit the number of potential nurses moving to private clinical settings due to higher salaries.
Nurses can only impact policies within their profession and the entire healthcare sector if they change their attitude and style. They need to be more creative and illustrate their natural abilities and insight to impact on their duties where and when necessary rather than being rigid-bureaucratic. Additionally, they should stand as pillars of critical thinkers, leaders, and patient advocates. Furthermore, nursing leadership should have an influence on policies determining staffing, administrative work, workload, skill mix, and educational programs among other key issues ailing the sector. Finally, nurses would have improved their impact on nursing policies. Thus, nurses must be able to shape policies within the healthcare settings rather than see it as a change induced by the other stakeholders in the healthcare sector.