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Take charge and change our healthcare system

Nurses know how unwelcoming the unknown can be but it can be somewhere the profession flourishes.
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Nurses know how unwelcoming the unknown can be but it can be somewhere the profession flourishes.

It is often said that no two days in nursing are the same. This means staff nurses and nurse managers understand how to work with unknowns. Nurses often make the best of any situation, calmly delivering measured care while advocating for what they know to be the best for their patients and staff.

Here is what all nurses can do to accomplish positive change in uncertain circumstances:

  • A framework for action . Nurses in the US enjoy being the most trusted profession. We should use our voice, as one, to advocate for the health of our country. By drawing on a
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Nurses know how unwelcoming the unknown can be but it can be somewhere the profession flourishes.

Power_web
Picture: iStock

It is often said that no two days in nursing are the same. This means staff nurses and nurse managers understand how to work with unknowns. Nurses often make the best of any situation, calmly delivering measured care while advocating for what they know to be the best for their patients and staff.

Here is what all nurses can do to accomplish positive change in uncertain circumstances:

  • A framework for action. Nurses in the US enjoy being the most trusted profession. We should use our voice, as one, to advocate for the health of our country. By drawing on a culture-of-health framework – a national agenda to improve health, well-being and equity – we can have a common platform in our and other professions to promote good health and well-being.
  • Broadening the definition of advocacy. Nurses have traditionally been comfortable advocating for patients in their work settings but, if we want to see improvements in the healthcare system, we must broaden our understanding of advocacy. Nurses must think beyond their day-to-day roles, and participate in broader healthcare discussions and the development of innovative policy solutions. If nurses are not at the table where decisions are being made, the nursing voice will not be heard. In the congressional committees created this year to replace and repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, for example, nurses have not been asked to the table, yet who better than nurses to help create the healthcare system of tomorrow?
  • Developing a goal for advocacy. Many nurses want to be involved but are unsure where to start. As debate on an issue goes quiet and the heat of the moment fades, many nurses’ passion dies down too, and they return to their routines with no change in advocacy or the healthcare system.

Let’s not let this passion die the next time it arises. Let’s develop our own goal for advocacy. The SMART goal format, which stands for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely, is a great place to start in that it allows us to focus on one achievable action out of a wide range of potential actions. As nurses, we can create personal goals for advocacy on any healthcare issue that are specific, measurable, relevant, and with definite completion dates by which we can be held to account.

It is our ethical responsibility to promote, advocate and protect the rights, health and safety of patients. Florence Nightingale started this moment of advocacy more than 150 years ago, by saying: ‘Never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard seed germinates and roots itself.’ This has never been truer for each of us than today. We must take charge and be prepared to sow the seeds of positive change in our healthcare system.


About the author

Jennifer_Mensik

Jennifer Mensik is vice president of continuing education programming for OnCourse Learning, University of Arizona, Phoenix AZ. Her book, The Power of Ten: A Conversational Approach to Tackling the Top Ten Priorities in Nursing, written with Susan Hassmiller, is published by Sigma Theta Tau International

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