Nurse managers are at the forefront of policymaking with their knowledge and ideas that can be used to create new policies or change old ones. Beyond advocating for patients, one of the primary responsibilities of nurse managers is to improve working conditions for those that they supervise. They agitate for shorter shifts, better equipment, longer breaks, and even better remuneration and benefits.
As frontline caregivers, nurses have a unique perspective on the healthcare system. According to one report, the average nurse spends about 70% of their time delivering direct patient care. As they deliver care, they speak with patients and learn valuable information that is used in creating treatment plans.
As they climb the ranks, many nurse managers become engaged in policy creation on issues such as patient care, staffing ratios, the cost of healthcare, and overall improvement of healthcare delivery for patients.
Professional organizations for career-driven nurses play an important role in the careers of nurse managers, helping them become better advocates and policymakers. Rockhurst University Online helps its students navigate the transition from studying to working through access to various organizations. For example, in Kansas, Missouri, students can use forums such as the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National League for Nursing (NLN), the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) where they exchange ideas and provide support to one another.
These associations also serve another important purpose – they are great platforms for nurse advocates because they can use them to get their voices heard. Whether they are targeting policy shifts at the local, state, or federal level, nurse managers are better heard when they come together as a group to advocate for their patients and colleagues. When planning for a career in nurse management, one should think about becoming a member of a few of the top nursing associations in America.
Nursing is a busy profession and some will struggle to keep up with the fast pace while attending meetings and other group events. It’s important to keep in mind that these gatherings are great platforms that produce transformation not only at the institutional level but also on a broader spectrum.
A nurse manager acts as an advocate, and policymaker, and they need to know what steps to take to bring about change. It isn’t easy, and they need good strategies to tackle different issues.
Below are some of the ways that nurse managers can work with organizations to advocate for their patients and their colleagues. These are suggestions, and whichever steps are taken will depend on the unique situation, the issue being confronted, and who must be approached to bring about a policy shift.
Be an active participant in nursing associations
It isn’t enough to be a member of a nursing association. One should get involved with the issues that are raised within these forums. Over time, newcomers become esteemed members, and when it comes time to advocate for an issue, people will listen.
Understand how policy is made
One of the most difficult things in government is the creation of new policies. It is a multi-step process that involves many agencies and branches of government. Within these are many individuals, each with their own views, ideas, and approaches.
It’s necessary to understand how all these different elements work together to create new policies. The more that is known, the easier it will be to get ideas put into practice.
Know who matters in the policymaking process
Who is the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to healthcare policy? Knowing who is in charge and who has the final say makes it more effective to reach out to them directly to see policy ideas enacted faster. This is important when working with organizations; finding out who the ultimate decision-maker is avoids wasting time at the lower levels.
Get to know the legislators who support health policies that are of interest
If someone in the local government has been advocating for better patient care or improved working conditions for healthcare professionals, it would be beneficial to network and make them aware that their ideas are supported.
Write to relevant organizations and inform them of current issues
Having a written record makes it easier to get people’s attention and have them listen. Therefore, it’s vital to distribute letters and proposals to the right organizations. When the time comes to meet and discuss ideas, they will already be prepped for what’s to be discussed, making communication more effective.
Join patient and nurse advocate groups
Every state has organizations concerned with healthcare, and they are great advocates for patients and healthcare professionals. Becoming a member of these organizations and participating facilitates being heard when needing to voice an opinion or concern.
When organizations ask for support, rally colleagues and loop them in to lend a helping hand. The more support that’s provided to these organizations and associations, the easier it becomes for policy ideas to be put into action.
Get to know lobbyists
Lobbyists are important when reaching higher levels of government. They have the ear of the lawmakers, and they can help bring significant changes to healthcare. If there are lobbyists within the local network, it’s beneficial to get to know them and build relationships with them. They may help bring about the changes that healthcare professionals wish to see.
Provide evidence-based data
As a professional who wishes to be an advocate, this is an important piece of information to provide. Evidence-based data delivers numbers, and numbers are a powerful way to persuade decision-makers.
Advocacy is an important role of the nurse manager, and it isn’t an easy one. Not only is it time-consuming, but it is also one that requires tact and diplomacy. Nurse managers can be a powerful influence in shaping healthcare in their community if they take the right steps to have their voices heard.