Influencing Health Care in the Legislative Arena

Sheila Abood, PhD, RN


Online J Issues Nurs. 2007;12(1) 

In This Article


Whether they acknowledge it or not, all nurses are touched by the policy and politics of health care system and the impact the policies, legislation, and regulations developed in those arenas have on the way they practice their profession (Holmes & Gastaldo, 2002). Many special interest groups involved in health care actively participate in the development of health care policy by providing critical information legislators need to make decisions. Nurses cannot afford to remain in the background or added as an after thought to the policy and legislative arenas. As the largest single group of health care providers, nurses have the potential to successfully advocate from a diverse power base; and they and have a unique perspective on health care policies and expertise to share with power brokers. Nurses need to be a strong voice actively advocating for positive change. Nurses strengthen their power base when they network with nursing colleagues and other supporters to build consensus on important issues.

As the health care system continues to change, more and more nurses are choosing to take on the advocacy role, working to get health care policies which reflect nursing's perspective implemented. However, without a sound understanding of the legislative process, policy advocates run the risk of having their message wasted by working with the wrong people or at the wrong time. There are multiple ways to advocate for nursing, ranging from simply making a phone call or writing a letter to expressing your opinion on an issue of importance, all the way to running for office yourself. Even the busiest professionals can find convenient ways to advocate for a better health care system. For the neophyte and the more experienced there are many resources (such as the websites listed below) available to nurse policy advocates who want to learn more about how to make a difference in key health care issues using legislative and policy processes and working within the political arena.


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