This paper aims to discuss the ways on how nurses can significantly contribute to the development health policy. Moreover, this paper also intends to enumerate different strategies on how nurses can keep abreast of current legislative and policy issue. The Role of Nurses in Developing Health Policy Health care management is one of the most sensitive fields in Human Studies, for it is primarily concerned about improving human health. It involves tasks to improve the public’s health condition and to seek ways of prolonging the life span of individuals.
Thus, it is for this reason that the demand for the number of medical professionals, which include doctors, medical researchers and scientists, nurses, and medical aids, continues to increase globally. Moreover, the never ending quest for human’s survival requires that every government must adopt a range of policies that could help alleviate the health condition of their citizens and find solutions to problems concerning the field of health care management.
Aside from legislators, medical researchers, and doctors, nurses, too, can play an important role in developing health policies because they are part of the health care system and are directly affected by government system on public health. In order for nurses to secure a positive health system, “they must develop a working knowledge of government, key government and quasi-government organizations and agencies, health care law, the policy process, and the political forces that are shaping the health care system” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2006, p.
116). As defined by Walt (1994), public policy in health is “a systematic course of action undertaken by government agencies that not only affects the formal institutions of the health care system by that also has an influence more broadly on the health of community”. Nurses certainly have an important part in developing public health policy in most of the activities of governmental agencies that are mandated to come up with programs that will improve or enhance health and the healthcare system.
They only need to build up their expertise and interest in the said areas. It is indeed important that nurses are well-acquainted with the general process of policy-making. Without any knowledge about how policy is developed, nurses will fail to come up with ways or solutions for the progress of the health care condition. As Pauline Cook (2008) puts it,
“Health policy is changing as new systems are developed, new facilities are commissioned and new technology is introduced and nurses have a responsibility to become politically aware and be involved in all levels of policy development, whether at an organizational level, developing operational policies for services, or in response to nationwide policy changes that will affect the health and well-being. ” (n. p. )
In order to be acquainted with the character of policies, nurses should first understand the process of developing a policy. There are five important steps in policy making: (1) identifying the problem; (2) formulating a policy; (3) adopting the policy; (4) policy implementing the policy; and (5) evaluating the policy. In identifying the problem, one should consider the scope of the problem, its duration and history, and whom does it affect.
Once he or she has identified an issue that needs to be addressed, policy formation should follow. Here, it is important to clarify the context and the specification of alternative solutions of the policy being proposed. Clarifying the problem and its background and identifying the stakeholders are considerations that will shed light on the context of the health issue and be important in framing strategies that will maximize successful adoption of the policy (Nagelkerk, 2005, p. 295).
In addition, alternative options or solutions are also subject to clarification for proving their effectiveness, for attesting that the proposed solution will achieve a favorable outcome, and for analyzing its costs and benefits for the welfare of the public and the community. Once a preferred solution or policy has been selected, policy adoption will take place. There should be a legislative body or legal entity that will adopt the selected policy. For health care concerns, it could be the government or its agencies, medical institution, or the community that seeks the development of such policy.
More to this, additional factors including the requirements for implementation and administration must be considered. Policy makers must also be ready for the unperceived consequences just in case there will be an instance that some components of the policy or the effects of implementing it are not feasible. Continuous evaluation is also important to monitor and analyze whether the implemented policy was effective or whether it needs more improvement.