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Health Policy and Advocacy
Our healthcare system is significantly affected by public policies and programs. For example, health policies directly influence care delivery, health disparities, health equity, and health outcomes (Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019; Williams et al., 2018). In addition, health policies and programs impact the environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic aspects of the healthcare working force (Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019). Therefore, the value of health policy in the current healthcare system demands that nurses are knowledgeable and skilled in the policy process and advocacy (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2011).
Nurse Engagement with Health Policy and Advocacy
Nurses have a massive impact on influencing healthcare, specifically in addressing policies that aim to improve health disparities, health equity, gaps in care, and working environments of healthcare professionals (AACN, 2011; De Cordova et al., 2018; Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019; Williams et al., 2018). Additionally, graduate nurses must actively review health-related policies and demonstrate the skills to implement the policy or propose alternatives to existing policies (Cordova et al., 2018). Unfortunately, barriers such as inadequate skill or knowledge, lack of time, and disinterest impede nurses’ involvement in health policy-related activities (De Cordova et al., 2018). As a result, undergraduate and graduate programs integrate health policy content into nursing curricula to promote an enhanced understanding of how policy shapes healthcare (De Cordova et al., 2018).
Nursing extends their involvement with public policy by working as public spokespeople, state and federal legislators, professional and regulatory board members, and professional healthcare advocates (De Cordova et al., 2018). In addition, nurse policy research that addresses social factors, access, cost, material resources, and environmental influences on patient care provides valuable information for developing and implementing health policies (AACN, 2011; Turale & Kunaviktikul, 2019; Williams et al., 2018). Master’s-prepared nurses are integral to interpreting health policy research so that we can further advance our field, patient care, and collaboration among healthcare professions and community agencies.
My Practicum Project
After I interpreted the research, I noticed a gap in care for social support access for pregnant and postpartum adolescents. Most of the research targets an equally important topic of sex prevention or safe sex; however, little research focuses on social support for that patient population. In addition, pregnant and postpartum adolescents are a vulnerable patient population that can be socially and economically disadvantaged. While developing my project, I considered the legal health rights of minors with family planning and pregnancy in my state. In addition, I developed relationships with community agencies that support policies for pregnant and postpartum teens and offer free services.
Health policies and programs directly impact patient care, access to care, health outcomes, and health disparities in our healthcare system. Nurses are uniquely positioned to utilize health policies and specific nursing knowledge to influence and change the future of healthcare. Integrating health policy education into undergraduate and graduate nursing programs will increase nursing involvement in policy and advocacy. In addition, the opportunity for nurses to impart education or quality improvement projects in a graduate program will further enhance the connection between health policy and advocacy.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing.
De Cordova, P. B., Steck, M. B. W., Vermeesch, A., Pierre, N., Rankin, A., Ohlendorf, J. M., Lawrence, S., & Derouin, A. (2018). Health policy engagement among graduate nursing students in the United States. Nursing Forum, 54(1), 34-44.
Turale, S., & Kunaviktikul, W. (2019). The contribution of nurses to health policy and advocacy requires leaders to provide training and mentoring. International Nursing Review, 66(3), 302-304.
Williams, S. D., Phillips, J. M., Koyama, K. (2018). Nurse advocacy: Adopting a health in all policies approach. The Online Journal Of Issues in Nursing, 23(3).

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