The Role of the RN / APRN in Policy Making

To be successful, nurses must begin viewing themselves as change makers and experts in their own right capable of impacting practice by actively participating in decision-making. This involves direct involvement in issues linked to prevailing healthcare delivery systems while guaranteeing the provision of first-rate services. The existing nursing environment and the leading nursing organizations offer such opportunities and play a significant role in promoting nurse’s participation in the decision-making process.

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The clinical environment is an ideal starting point for Registered nurses and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses aspiring to participate in the decision-making process and establishing change management frameworks. A set of unique expertise and credentials qualify nurses to participate in discourse on the efficiency of healthcare delivery frameworks, especially since they are typically tasked with affecting the implementation process (Chadwick, 2013). This is crucial in ensuring delivery programs and systems are always working at optimum level and capable of improving patient outcomes and the clinical environment. Furthermore, the clinical environment is fundamental as an ideal environment for presenting concerns for policy review with the ultimate aim of improving the overall state of the workplace environment. Nurses also have a responsibility to oppose policy changes likely to be detrimental to the quality of care provided and welfare of clinical staff.

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Leading nursing organizations also serve as an important avenue for presenting foremost clinical concerns coupled with members’ active participation in the decision-making process. Organizations such as the National League for Nursing (NLN) provide an incomparable platform for members to directly engage healthcare stakeholders and identify areas in need of drastic overhaul or policy review (Hart & Scarlett, 2017). RNs and APRNs are particularly instrumental due to their experience and a high likelihood of being aware of key areas in need of instantaneous top-level intervention. Additionally, participation of nurses within nursing organizations is also beneficial for clinical staff since they are characteristically aware of the challenges encountered within the contemporary clinical environment and can, therefore, propose actionable propositions within the context of  a decision-making process (Roberts & Holland, 2013). Nurses are, therefore, obligated to identify opportunities for them to them to participate in the decision-making process with the aim of integrating the highest standards of care into practice and ultimately shape its future.

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However, poor reception by high-ranking stakeholders is often a major impediment to nurses’ participation in today’s clinical environment while exclusive membership rights hinder involvement in nursing organizations. As a rule of thumb, nurses are often required to be acutely and prepared for holdups likely to hinder their propensity to successfully participate in the decision-making process (Gawthorpe, 2013).  Such scenarios are likely to emerge when a nurse upper management fails to acknowledge concerns presented or their impact on the clinical environment. In other instances, poor knowledge of proposed and implemented policy changes may ultimately hinder their efficacy when put to use (Leufer & Cleary-Holdforth, 2013). On the other hand, bureaucracy in the process applied when admitting members into high-profile nursing organizations may hinder their participation in the decision-making process. This particular challenge can be addressed by adopting simplified admission mechanisms for recruiting members while focusing on professional leadership qualities as a pillar for nursing organizations.

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Capacity building during collaborative policy work and focus to shrewd leadership are useful tools which can be harnessed to communicate decision-making opportunities present within the profession. Realizing capacity building is central addressing health policy issues by essentially elevating the expertise and awareness of RNs and APRNs in a rapidly-evolving workplace environment. On the other hand, able leadership guarantees appropriate guidance and management of novel policy changes while ensuring nurses are aware of any recently instituted changes for posterity and smooth transition.

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