Nurses' Expertise Is Essential for Health Policy Decision Making

Oncology nurses reported not feeling heard in the political arena. However, they are advocating for themselves and patients in other ways.

Oncology nurses have a skillset and knowledge that makes them vital members of the health care team. As frontline providers of cancer care, their voice is important when it comes to decision making for both patients and fellow nurses.

However, according to a recent poll of the Oncology Nursing News audience, 100% of participants responded that they do not feel that nurses are involved enough in health care policy decisions.

We asked which legislative or policy areas are most important for nurses to have their voices heard. Answers included:

  • Equitable access to health care
  • Social and political determinants of health
  • Health care access
  • Cost of care and the Affordable Care Act
  • Nurse staffing issues
  • Funding for nursing education

Advocating for Nurses Rights

Despite reporting that nurses do not have their views heard enough, our readers reported ways that they speak out for nurses’ rights in both local and national arenas.

“I am a member of many state health coalitions that jointly plan and engage in grassroots mobilization [for] individuals to effect policy change. I convene conversations for nurses and policy and use our voice,” said Carol Bush, BS, RN.

On a more personal level, another respondent, who wished to remain anonymous, said that they advocate for nurses by, “representing my profession; staying accredited; being vocal about nursing and nursing practice.”

Others reported keeping open lines of communication with management at their hospitals and clinics or staying up to date with professional nursing organizations.

Another anonymous respondent is empowering the next generation of nurses: “I teach health care policy to nurses, vote, and am a board member of a national non-profit cancer organization. Although board membership is not directly related to nurse advocacy, I do weave nurses’ rights into this work by speaking up for the education needs of nurses.”

Advocating for Patient Rights

Nurses are also passionate in advocating for the rights of their patients.

For many, this occurs on a personal level, such as listening to patients’ point of views and practicing empathy every day. Diana Teopaco, LVN, said that she helps patients by, “fighting with health plans to get the coverage they need for cancer treatment.”

Additionally, nurses said that they partner with nonprofit cancer organizations to help patients that have concerns beyond the realm of cancer treatment.

More: When Health Gets Political, Nurses Speak Out