Nurses advocate for their patients every day. As the nursing Code of Ethics states, a nurse “promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.” As patient advocates, nurses are an important voice in healthcare policy.
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can prepare nurse leaders for patient advocacy at a policy level. Lamar University offers an online MSN in Nursing Administration program that helps nurses develop the knowledge and skills they need for leadership roles while also equipping them to address health policy issues.
How Can an MSN in Administration Help?
Healthcare policy makes the headlines on a regular basis. Evidence of this trend is seen in the number of Google search results for “opioid epidemic health policy” — over 20 million, including an article that discusses the role of nurses in shaping policy on the opioid crisis.
The World Health Organization defines health policy as the “decisions, plans, and actions that are undertaken to achieve specific health care goals within a society.” Earning an MSN in Administration equips RNs with the advanced skills and knowledge they need to shape health policies at every level.
For example, Lamar University’s MSN in Nursing Administration helps nurses develop expertise in the following:
- Healthcare policy processes
- Nursing research
- Leadership in healthcare organizations
- Quality improvement in healthcare delivery
- Strategic management
- Resource management
How Are Nurses Influencing Policy?
Nurses might wonder how they can impact policies, but the process is fairly straightforward. For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) reported that hundreds of nurses from nearly every state recently met with members of Congress and staff to successfully advocate for legislation that combats the opioid epidemic.
As patient advocates, nurses are in a unique position to influence healthcare policy. Nurses’ voices were heard when the ANA spoke out against attempts to repeal the ACA. As the largest organization of nurses, the ANA was influential in stopping legislation that would negatively impact nurses and their patients.
Rising healthcare costs constitute another leading issue in healthcare policy. Prescription drug prices are a top concern. Nurses see the impact of prescription drug pricing on their patients and play an important role in related policy decisions.
The Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) has called for nurses to be “full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.” Some nurse and physician leaders are embracing a “leadership dyad” model. Rather than working alone, nurse leaders and physicians are partnering to achieve common goals. One example is advocating for policy that improves care.
Healthcare employs more people than any other industry. And RNs have the highest employment of any healthcare occupation. As the largest healthcare profession — and the healthcare professionals who spend the most time with patients — RNs can have a powerful impact on healthcare decision-making.
Earning an MSN in Nursing Administration prepares nurses for leadership roles in shaping health policy. In “Policy and Politics: Why Nurses Should Get Involved,” Fredrik Oestberg, MSN, RN notes, “If nurses don’t stand up for issues that are important to us, those with competing interests in healthcare may be the only ones whose voices are heard.”
Learn more about Lamar University’s online MSN in Nursing Administration program.