A critical component of any policy design is evaluation of the policy’s results (Laureate Education, 2018). However, some nurses may be hesitant to get involved with policy evaluation. The preference may be to focus on the care and well-being of their patients. In doing so, some nurses may feel ill-equipped to enter the realm of policy and political activities. However, as examined previously, nurses are better placed to advocate for patients and effective programs and polices than any other healthcare workers (Glasgow, Lichtenstein, & Marcus, 2003). This discussion gives a reflection on the role of professional nurses in policy evaluation.
The largest group of healthcare workers/providers are nurses, and it is rightly so because nurses can provide (engage in) effective evaluation of healthcare policies and programs. There are many opportunities that currently exist for RNs/APRNs to actively engage in policy review. They can do so through professional nursing associations or their employers’ policy committees. The ANA has many visions and missions among which include “lobbying the government for changes on nursing and health-related issues (Milstead & Short, 2019).”
Nurses’ influence on health policy, through policy evaluation, protects the quality of care by access to required recourses. Access to resources helps nurses to be aware of the happenings in health care policy including within their states (Laureate Education, 2018). This kind of knowledge will help nurses to provide effective feedback to employers or governments to help provide good shape for health policies and programs. For instance, a nurse can book appointments with their local legislators to present an evaluation report on a program/ policy with a focus on measurable outcomes and the policy’s effectiveness while offering their expert opinion on the policy (Ryan & Rosenberg, 2015).
While these opportunities give nurses an upper hand in policy review, they can present challenges to the nurses. For instance, the RNs/APRNs may find it difficult to obtain required or comparative resources for a policy or program that has been implemented, particularly when it is a new policy/program that lack appropriate data to make comparisons (Milstead & Short, 2019). Additionally, nurses may face the challenge of limited resources to complete an evaluation of a program/ policy. These challenges can make it difficult to evaluate the outcome and impact of a policy/program. Nurses can try to find evidence-based data and information related to the policy or conduct new studies to combat such lack of data. the nurse can also request for funding or scholarships to enable them get enough resources to conduct policy evaluation.
How can nurses better advocate for or communicate the existence of these opportunities? As an RN/APRN, you may consider recommending the incorporation of health policy advocacy/evaluation as a course in the nursing curriculum that nursing students should complete to get their license. Secondly, I may consider using Social Media platforms to run campaigns on the opportunities available for nurses to participate in policy evaluation. Campaigns and advertisements can be carried out on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogs. Additionally, Nursing associations and organizations can also use their websites, on-line chat platforms or webinars to advocate for these opportunities among nurses and inform nurses of the policies/programs that need to be evaluated so that nurses can provide the individual expert opinion on the policies/programs.
Glasgow, R. E., Lichtenstein, E., & Marcus, A. C. (2003). Why don’t we see more translation of health promotion research to practice? Rethinking the efficacy-to effectiveness transition. American Journal of Public Health, 93(8), 1261–1267.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2018). The Importance of Program Evaluation [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Milstead, J. A., & Short, N. M. (2019). Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Ryan, S. F., & Rosenberg, S. (2015). Nurse practitioners and political engagement: Findings from a nurse practitioner advanced practice focus group & national online survey.