at least 2 references in each peer responses!
One opportunity for an RN or APRN to actively participate in policy-making would be to join an organization. This could be a state nursing association or a national one. For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a solid national organization that unites nurses, from all backgrounds and specialties, and encourages us to be strong advocates for our patients and for our own roles in healthcare. This may mean on a smaller scale at our own facilities or on a larger scale on Capitol Hill. A challenge that I might face when joining one of these large-scale organizations is that it is not very personal. You would have to actively seek relationships with fellow colleagues to build beneficial relationships. If you’re able to do so, though, the benefit may be that you create many relationships in many different areas of the country so that you may learn from each other and create helpful contacts.
A second opportunity might be to develop a mentor relationship with a member of the state legislation that is involved in health-care related policy-making. You would get a first-hand experience with how policy-making happens as it happens. It is one thing to read about it and another to experience it. This would be very beneficial to bring your experiences back to your local community or health-care facilities and to bring your personal experiences to the legislative floor. The biggest hurdle to do this would be actually meeting someone who would be willing to mentor you. This might be where a relationship developed with someone on the ANA or in the administration/board of your hospital might be able to assist. In both cases, developing contacts and networking is a must.
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I had never thought about the need for nurse advocacy involved in direct legislation until this class and I am sure that I am not the only one. It might be advantageous to the entire nursing body to start teaching about nurse advocacy and legislation while in nursing school. It would give those who lean more towards this direction the ability to be familiar with the process from the beginning and direct their careers right from graduation.
Lastly, I think that facilities should encourage their nurses to join nursing organizations or nursing boards/committees when they are hired and every year during their annual evaluations. Gathering personal stories and experiences from the beginning of their careers will allow nurses to show personal and professional growth over time that can put a face to situations that we encounter every day.