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Political Awareness

Political Action Awareness 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.

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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 nd/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 nly 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 he 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 nurses and the public (ANA, 2011). Every nurse has the responsibility to follow the Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice and the Code of Ethics for Nursing, but nurse leaders and managers must utilize nursing professional organizations to keep up to date on health care reform, federal and state policy changes that may require a change of local facility policy and practice.

Without an avenue to remain current in the knowledge about changes in policy and laws a facility and the nurse leaders could be unable to make the best decisions in regard to nursing practice within the facility in light of changes being made in health care and the future of nursing practice. Importance of Maintaining Awareness The timing is right for every nurse and especially nurse leaders to become involved in health care delivery and reform. The issues at hand for health care offer the opportunity for nurse eaders to form alliances with influential people and groups through the sharing of personal experiences with legislative bodies or joining politically active professional organization committees working to make changes occur. Nurses are ethically responsible and accountable to abide by the Standards of Clinical Nursing and the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Within the Code of Ethics are standards that specifically address shaping the practice of nursing and a nurses responsibility not only to the profession of nursing and its practice in the promotion of the best atient care and outcomes, but addresses standards of clinical administration, responsibility to be involved in nursing professional organizations and all that they can assist with, responsibility to the public and health care policy reform (ANA Code of Ethics, 2001). The current Standards of Clinical Nursing Practice and the Code of Ethics for Nurses offers written documentation that guides the nursing profession in self-regulating and ability to articulate the role of nursing to the public (Tappen, Weiss, & Whitehead, 2004). Through the support of professional organizations, he varied information that can be accessed and the involvement opportunities the organization can continually give to nurse leaders, nursing can be represented in the political process of health care policy reform and make sure that all nurses are represented as a collective voice through the organizations. Utilizing professional organizations in understanding the current legislative bills that affect the practice within the facilities the nurse leader is guiding enhances the ability to advocate and be part of the advocacy of the issues.

One such example is the information available from ANA about the Safe Staffing Act, bills H. R. 876 and S. 58 and the Health Care Reform bill H. R. 2. Being aware of the progress of the legislation as well as what support ANA is lending to the process allows a nurse to decide on the level of political involvement they personally want to give and to be aware of changes that will need to be made in policies and procedures within the work environment. Conclusion

Nurse leaders need to be aware of health care issues that will affect them, their practice, facility and the welfare of their patients. Nurses needs to be aware of issues at the local, state, and national levels that effect health care. Sources of information on health care issues include the local newspaper, national news releases on television and a variety of web sites, but the most expeditious and offered to all nurses are the nursing professional organizations and their resources.

The American Nursing Associations resources include: position statements which are “explanations, a justification or a recommendation for a course of action that reflects ANA’s stance regarding the concern” of a “hot topic” (ANA, 2011, Position Statements); guidelines on various issues or principles; National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI®); nursing standards; educational programs and competencies; continuing education programs; disaster preparedness and response information; federal and state government affairs and issues with osition statements and resources for information on current political issues and ways to assist in taking action. As a member of a professional organization nurse leaders are part of a large collective voice that can feel empowered to offer resolutions for health care issues that affect the industry. Through the collegiality of the organization, nurses can make a difference and be heard by legislative groups that make the health care reforms that affect nursing practice. References American Nursing Association, Inc. (2011). About ANA. Retrieved from ANA Nursing

World Website http://www. nursingworld. org/FunctionalMenuCategories/AboutANA American Nursing Association. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Retrieved from http://nursingworld. org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses Huston, C. (2008). Preparing nurse leaders for 2020. Journal of Nursing Management, 16(8), 905-911. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Tappen, R. M. , Weiss, S. A. and Whitehead, D. K.. (2004). Essentials of nursing leadership and management (3rd ed. ). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company


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