As young American adults turn eighteen, they are reminded that it is their civic duty and responsibility to register to vote, to be aware of current policies and to make educated decisions in the voting booth. As some of these young adults become active in the nursing profession, they are taught that their ultimate responsibility is to advocate for their patients; they are to ensure their safety and well-being. That being said, does this responsibility stop at the bedside? Should nurses take an active role in the policy making that directly affects the healthcare of their patients? Conn and Armer (2012) stated that “nurses must be prepared to use multiple and varied strategies to influence public policy so that optimal health outcomes can be achieved” (p. 296). This statement alone implies that nursing’s responsibility extends beyond direct patient care.
Unfortunately, today’s nurses have not been educated to view themselves as “policy development activists” (Wolf & Robinson, 2013, p. 16). In light of this statement, I took a “Political Astuteness Inventory” and was quite surprised at my score, for I could only honestly check mark 17 of the 34 statements. My 17 checkmarks are clustered mainly around my civic duty of registering to vote as well as making decisions and working collaboratively in my workplace. I do not actively participate in influencing the legislative policy makers’ decisions. “Political astuteness is defined as awareness and understanding of legislative and policy processes and political skills” (Primomo, 2007, p. 260). I obviously am not politically astute, nor have I been challenged to be so, until now. “During the past decade, there has been a heightened awareness among nurses that the forces shaping nursing practice are strongly influenced by public policy and that many health problems could be profoundly affected by public policy” its own practice” (Blais & Hayes, 2011, p. 199).
Nursing organizations provide nurses with a “collective voice for promoting nursing and quality health care” (Blais & Hayes, 2011, p. 209). These organizations keep abreast of the issues that are affecting nursing practice and healthcare locally, regionally and globally. They monitor prospective legislation, take a stance on the proposals and send lobbyists to represent the nursing profession and ultimately quality patient care (Blais & Hayes, 2011).
The North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) was established in 1902 by a group of nurses in an effort to legalize the registration of nurses. The NCNA represents all of North Carolina’s registered nurses and stays connected with nursing policy, education and practice. According to the website, www.ncnurses.org, “nurses can become more powerful advocates for our patients and for our profession.” Their mission statement sums up their philosophy; “The North Carolina Nurses Association serves the changing needs of its members, addresses nursing issues, and advocates for the health and...