Nursing is one of the most challenging professions, as nurses work long hours and night shifts caring for severely ill and, sometimes, dying patients. Increasing the number of nurses taking care of patients in hospitals will greatly increase job satisfaction among nurses and make them more productive. It is, therefore, crucial that the nurse to patient ratio be improved as this will ultimately translate into better care for the patients.
The nurse to patient ratio refers to one nurse taking care of a specific number of patients at any one time (Aikan, 2010).
- Nursing is one of the most challenging jobs in any country and nurses are often forced to work for long hours to fulfill patient needs. They have to deal with severely ill or even dying patients in very stressful environments and this calls for a lot of patience, understanding and a calming atmosphere.
- Due to the low number of nurses per patient, the nurses experience a lot of burnout. This ultimately compromises patient safety and results in job dissatisfaction (Abood, 2007).
- The best way to solve these problems and improve the quality of health care is to increase the nurse to patient ratio in hospitals. The achievement of this objective would require political goodwill and support.
- The passing of legislation towards achieving a favorable nurse to patient ratio will be a great boost to members of this profession.
- The legislature has the power to change the current conditions and this is the only institution that the nurses can look up to. The California legislature has already done this (Aikan, 2010).
- If all legislators in other states work towards replicating the system in California, there are chances that the American health care system will experience many positive outcomes in patient care and safety. An efficient health care system is the dream of all Americans.
- The health care system and the well being of Americans are too important to be ignored. All necessary steps should be taken to improve this situation and the personal efforts of the legislators will greatly help.
My Strategies to Influence Votes
In order for nurse to be drivers of policy in their profession, they must seek to influence decisions that are made by the political class. The nurses’ participation in the political issues of their professional calling will effectively allow them to own and enjoy the profession. It is important that legislators are lobbied in order to pass legislation that favors a higher nurse to patient ratio.
As skilled professionals, it is important that nurses make their voices heard to save this noble profession from suffering irreparable damage. The exodus from the profession is especially alarming. The first step is to ensure that nurses understand the current legislation already in place with regard to patient-nurse ratio and how it affects them. Encouraging members to join nursing professional organizations will allow them to access information about these legislations. Attending state legislation days which are organized by many nursing organizations will also help the nurses learn more about this legislation. Learning and understanding the issues affecting them will allow the nurses to become better-informed advocates of their welfare (Abood, 2007).
Another strategy will involve the drive to influence policy in a practical way. The power of numbers is evident in the number of legislators who support your cause. The unions are a powerful avenue in lobbying legislators to pass legislation that will provide favorable working conditions for the nurses. In California where such legislation was passed on minimum staff ratios, the unions played a prominent role for many years before they eventually succeeded in passing the legislation.
It is important that nurses elect union officials who have influence within the labor movement and get affiliated to various other professional organizations that will support their cause. The role of powerful affiliates in supporting the cause of the Californian nurses was especially prominent. Although the National Nurses United had lobbied for patient to nurses ratios for many years, it is the strength of the California state union that eventually succeeded in lobbying their legislators to pass this law. In this area, nurses should enlist the support of social groups such as churches and other civic organizations to speak to the legislators about the issue. Individually signed letters can also be effective in communicating nurses’ concerns (Abood, 2007).
At state level, it is important to understand the power of interest groups in influencing legislation. Creating influence means employing strategies that also appeal to the interests of the legislators. Strategies such as attending political fundraisers and endorsing candidates will greatly help in winning influence. In the words of a former California House speaker Jesse Unruh, money plays a great part in political influence. Nurses should consider making campaign contributions as a way of influencing votes on their cause. A legislator is likely to listen to a group that supports him politically than one that does not. In lobbying them, it is important to consider this fact.
Aikan, T. D. (2010). Legal, ethical, and political issues in nursing. Philadelphia, Penns: F.A. Davis.
Abood, S. (2007). Understanding payment for advanced practice nursing services: Fraud and abuse. S.l.: America Nursing Assoc.