A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference entitled Building Health Policy Competencies in Graduate Nursing Programs. The program was presented by the Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I was attracted to this conference as I believe nurses play a vital role in transforming the healthcare system in the United States and I wanted to see what educators were doing to ensure the profession was prepared.
Why do I think nurses are vital to transforming healthcare? There are several reasons, here are a few. Nurses as a professional number over three million people. As a result of the sheer numbers, nurses have a strong voice and a common goal that the profession is based. As a result when nurses come together, they have a strong voice and can make an enormous impact. Nursing as a profession is diverse in practice and as a result, nurses have an impact on each patients they meet at every point along the healthcare continuum.
Today, nurses provide care throughout the healthcare system 24/7. As a result, they are closest to the patient at the most vulnerable times throughout their lifespan. Their role allows them to see the miracles of our healthcare system as well as the challenges people have in managing their health and healthcare. They see first-hand how social determinants and public policy impacts their patients ability to manage their care as well the nurses ability to do their work in a safe and efficient manner.
Once a person completes a nursing program and gains a license to practice nursing, they choose the setting where they want to work and utilize their expertise. It might be on a medical-surgical floor, in a community health clinic or another entry level setting that allows them to put their nursing training into practice. After a few years, they may choose to stay at the bedside to mentor new staff, decide to specialize in an area such as the neonatal intensive care unit or one of the many adult care specialties or move up the ladder of management. These choices are possible due to their broad educational background as well as from the creativity and innovate spirit each nurse brings to the profession.
Regardless of their choices, nurses get to see the broad landscape of the healthcare industry up close and personal. They gain a unique understanding of how the system works (or doesn’t) and how each person faces their health and healthcare responsibility.
Today, with health care in a disruptive state, nurses are becoming frustrated with the system and the challenges that disruption brings. They are seeing that the chaos is impacting how care is delivered. Many are using their expertise and their voices as integral members of the team to help their organizations and communities to improve.
To be truly effective, nurses need to use their collective voices in areas of education, public policy and other venues that influence change. Nurses are finding seats at the table by serving on corporate boards, by being active in their community via their City Council, by working with employers and legislature representatives on the local, state and federal levels to help enact health care policy that serves the community.
Nurses are instrumental in helping policy makers, employers and consumers understand the complex health care system and are assisting them in making informed decisions regarding their health and healthcare.
To do this effectively, nurses need education on how to be effective leaders and how they can influence heath policy. As a result, Nurse Educators at the baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate levels are working to develop programs that incorporate advocacy and health policy education into their curriculum.
To spearhead the effort, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in collaboration with the University of New Mexico have developed a collaborative to educate educators and other nurse leaders on the importance of building health policy competency in nursing education.
The conference Building Health Policy Competency in Graduate Nursing Education was one of the attempts to meet this need. The meeting was held on January 23-24th in Naples FL. The gathering followed the American College of Nursing annual Doctoral Education Conference and brought together educators from across the country. The goal of this conference was to increase the quality, rigor and uniformity of health policy education by bringing together inter-professional experts in the instruction of health policy content.
The conference planning committee brought together an expert faculty and produced a range of pedagogical material and approaches to enhance health policy education in nursing programs at all levels as well as introduce a national repository of health policy education resources.
The interactive conference provided a venue for all in attendance to share best practices, academic teaching styles and learning activities via lectures, round table discussions, poster presentations and other networking opportunities.
Post-conference educators and other nurse leaders are encouraged to visit and add to the repository that has been set up by the University of New Mexico. The repository is meant to be used by faculty teaching health policy. Materials submitted are peer reviewed and once approved added to the portal. They are available for use at no cost.
The conference was an important step in building a community of colleagues committed to bringing health policy acumen to faculty and students. The overarching goal to provide nurse leaders with the skills needed to influence the policy making process at all levels, to engage in rigorous health policy research and analysis, and to promote improvements in population health and healthcare.
The faculty was impressive as they are the current leaders who are making an impact internationally, nationally, regionally and locally in the area of health policy and health education.
Among them was Susan Hassmiller, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Senior Adviser for Nursing and Director, Future of Nursing Campaign for Action. Joining her was Eileen O’Grady, Ph.D., NP, RN, Nurse Practitioner and Wellness Coach and Nancy Short, DrPH, MBA, RN, Associate Clinical Professor at Duke University.
All of the speakers provided insights into the important role of nursing as an essential member of the healthcare team and why it was critical for nurses to use their voice in advocating for patients and the health care team as we move through the complex process of transforming the healthcare system. All of the speakers shared the importance of building health policy competency in graduate nursing programs as a critical tool for the profession as well as our country.
The Keynote speaker, was Judith Shamian, Ph.D., RN, FAA, President of the International Council of Nurses.
In her keynote speaker, Dr. Shamian shared her impressions of the role nurses can play in addressing challenges in healthcare nationally and internationally. As President of the International Council of Nurses, she shared how other countries look to the United States as a leader in the area of public policy, healthcare, and nursing.
She implored nurses to use the power they have to make an impact by stepping up to the challenge and being part of the transformation of healthcare not only in the US but around the world.
I was grateful to attend this meeting and provide insights in this post of Nurse Advocate so that you can be encouraged to make your impact in transforming healthcare.
Please take the time to review the resources noted below and share with your colleagues.
I look forward to your comments and how you are making an impact in your community.
It is truly and exciting time to be a nurse!
Nurses: The Vital Role of Nurses in Transforming Healthcare. A thirty-minute video produced by Johnson and Johnson that explores the impact nurses have on our country’s healthcare system, our communities and families. Take time to watch this and share with your colleagues.
Nursing and Health Policy Repository: The Nursing and Health Policy Repository is a web-based library that provides resources on a variety of topics relating to health policy in general and the intersection of nursing and health policy in particular. Resources have been submitted by many of the nation’s top experts and health policy professionals and are meant to be used for educational purposes to facilitate the continued knowledge-building of future nursing and health policy experts, particularly at the doctoral level. If you have resources that you would like to have added to this repository, please send them to [email protected] All resources are screened and verified before being uploaded. The RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico does not endorse any policy or candidates that may be promoted by a resource provided here.
International Council of Nurses: The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of more than 130 national nurses associations (NNAs), representing the more than 16 million nurses worldwide. Founded in 1899, ICN is the world’s first and widest reaching international organization for health professionals. Operated by nurses and leading nurses internationally, ICN works to ensure quality nursing care for all, sound health policies globally, the advancement of nursing knowledge, and the presence worldwide of a respected nursing profession and a competent and satisfied nursing workforce.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health. Since 1972, the Foundation has worked to identify the most pressing health issues facing America. The Foundation believe that good health and health care are essential to the well-being and stability of our society and the vitality of our families and communities. The Foundations work is guided by the fundamental premise: We are stewards of private funds that must be used in the public’s interest. Together with grantees and collaborators, they strive to bring about meaningful, lasting change—with the goal of building a Culture of Health that enables all in our diverse society to lead healthier lives, now and for generations to come. RWJ and the Institute of Medicine collaborated to write the Future of Nursing Report and are committed to seeing the recommendations from the report come to fruition.
Future of Nursing Report: In 2008, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the IOM launched a two-year initiative to respond to the need to assess and transform the nursing profession. The IOM appointed the Committee on the RWJF Initiative on the Future of Nursing, at the IOM, with the purpose of producing a report that would make recommendations for an action-oriented blueprint for the future of nursing. –
Follow-up Report: Accessing Progress of the Institute of Medicine Report on the Future of Nursing Report:
National Nurse Act of 2015: This is an example of a grassroots public policy project that I have been involved for over five years. The National Nurse Act amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to designate the Chief Nurse Officer of the Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health within the Office of the Surgeon General. The Act includes among the duties of this position that include: providing leadership and coordination of Public Health Service nursing professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and other agencies of the Public Health Service, conducting outreach and education, providing guidance and leadership for activities that will increase public safety and emergency preparedness. The Act requires the National Nurse for Public Health to participate in the identification of national health priorities, (2) encourage volunteerism of nurses and strengthen the relationship between government agencies and health-related national organizations, and (3) promote the dissemination of evidence-based practice in educating the public on health promotion and disease prevention activities. To learn more and support this legislation, please visit the website http://nationalnurse.org
If you have questions, please email me at [email protected]. Have a good week!