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Hello class; as healthcare providers, we are essential in advocating for policies and practices that enhance the well-being and health of people, families, and communities. Since we are involved first-hand with patients, we advocate for their rights and even influence healthcare practices and policies at the national, state, and local levels (Nsiah et al.,2019). Some of the instances in which I have influenced healthcare through advocacy include advocating for staffing ratios in hospitals. Some years back, I worked in a healthcare facility where the nurses were overworked due to a staff shortage. We had a shortage of staff because most of the patients we cared for were patients aged 65 years and above, and these needed us to attend to them keenly. Research shows that the United States has the highest number of older adults aged 65 years and above. As the population ages, the need to access care services also increases (Iriarte‐Roteta et al.,2020). Taking care of older adults takes time since they do not have just one morbidity but deal with many diagnoses that require them to seek treatment now and then. Since most of the disease processes, once terminal, can survive long-term, treating the long-term disease can be straining for nurses (Chiu et al.,2021). The aging workforce is the other thing that leads to a shortage of nurses in the facility. When I started working at the hospitals, most of the nurses had remained for 3-5 years to retire as many of them were aged 50 years and above; hence when they started retiring from work, the number of nurses decreased as the patient’s being attended to increased.
Since I couldn’t take the issue anymore, I reported the shortage issue to my supervisor, who then told the medical director, who informed the board for recommendations on what to do. Still, three months later, no change had been made. Feeling that the issue was not addressed, I contacted the National Nurses United (NNU), a professional nursing organization that advocates for safe staffing ratios since they argue that adequate staffing is crucial in offering safe and effective care to patients. The other significance of reporting the issue to the National Nurses United (NNU) is that they lobby for legislation that mandates safe staffing ratios in numerous states and even organize media campaigns and protests to raise awareness of the healthcare facilities raising awareness on nursing shortage. National Nurses United (NNU) then contacted the hospitals and demanded they employ adequate staff to treat the patient effectively (Johnson et al., 2019). However, this incident put me in a bad place with my supervisor since they saw me disrespected. Moreover, the advocacy improved working conditions for nurses since more nurses were employed, and the hospital provided all the resources we needed to treat our patients. With the availability of enough workforce and resources, we now ensure our patient’s received effective and safe care enhancing patient satisfaction (Abbasinia et al.,2019).
Lastly, as nurses, we can lobby for several other policies, including mental health, health insurance coverage, social and poverty inequality, and other issues hindering patients from receiving effective healthcare services. We can all make a difference if we stand and address the issues our patients face and the ones our patients face. Let’s all make our practice effective.
Abbasinia, M., Ahmadi, F., & Kazemnejad, A. (2019). Patient advocacy in nursing: A concept analysis. Nursing Ethics, 27(1), 141-151. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733019832950
Chiu, P., Cummings, G. G., Thorne, S., & Schick-Makaroff, K. (2021). Policy advocacy and nursing organizations: A scoping review. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 22(4), 276-296. https://doi.org/10.1177/15271544211050611
Iriarte‐Roteta, A., Lopez‐Dicastillo, O., Mujika, A., Ruiz‐Zaldibar, C., Hernantes, N., Bermejo‐Martins, E., & Pumar‐Méndez, M. J. (2020). Nurses’ role in health promotion and prevention: A critical interpretive synthesis. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29(21-22), 3937-3949. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15441
Johnson, W. G., Butler, R., Harootunian, G., Wilson, B., & Linan, M. (2019). Registered nurses: The curious case of a persistent shortage. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48(4), 387-396. https://doi.org/10.1111/jnu.12218
Nsiah, C., Siakwa, M., & Ninnoni, J. P. (2019). Registered nurses’ description of patient advocacy in the clinical setting. Nursing Open, 6(3), 1124-1132. https://doi.org/10.1002/nop2.307