The health care system has different people who are involved in the running of the health care institutions; this include people in the health administration, doctors, nurses and the subordinate staff. Among these people, nurses are at the centre of health care in each community or health institution; this is because of the different roles they play every day, and their contribution to the health policy development process. This paper will explore the role of a nurse in health care and health policy.
Role of a nurse in health institutions
Historically, nurses have been considered as individuals that help doctors and serve patients; they are given directions by doctors concerning the patients’ treatment and medications, and are expected to follow these directions without fail (Alston, 2004). Nurses also answer to the calls of patients during emergency conditions, and help doctors in performing procedures on patients; by doing this, the nurse assists the doctor and ensures that patients are comfortable and in good condition.
In the event of assisting the doctor in performing procedures on patients, the nurse ensures that all patients have been examined fully, and this is done during the nursing shift. Additionally, the nurse looks at the physical condition, and checks on the overall health condition, and notes any emotional or physical changes on the patient (Alston, 2004). The nurse is also involved in the patient’s care planning and executes it to the fullest.
As the nurse takes care of the patient, he or she keeps records on the patient’s progress in the absence of the doctor; this includes medications and treatment administered. Nurses not only perform medical role, but also teach patients; patient need to be informed about their condition, and medications and treatment administered to them, this includes instructions for taking the prescribed medication while at home (Alston, 2004). The teaching role also includes answering questions from the patient concerning his or her condition or medication, or treatment.
Role of a nurse in alleviating health in the community
Nurses, through interaction with patients, and everyday recordings have a wider view of the health condition in the community. Through the hospital records, nurses know diseases that most affect the health of the community, and through everyday interaction with the patients know the health issues affecting the community, leading to unequal access to health care (Fyffe, 2009). With all this information and medical knowledge, the nurse should help the community in solving the problem of unemployment. Unemployment is one of the major factors contributing to unequal access to health care; the nurse can alleviate this issue by ensuring the community has enough educational facilities for young to access education. This will help them secure professional jobs, thus alleviating unemployment problem. Also, the nurse help formulate policies that increase jobs such as carpentry, sewing by pushing for funding from the government and willing organizations; this will alleviate unemployment, which in turn increase the number of people seeking professional health care (Fyffe, 2009).
The nurse should also consider looking for other factors affecting equal health access to the community, which might include language barrier and accessibility of health services. To overcome these problems, the nurse should consider partnering with families in the community, as well as leaders to make the health care system fit to serve a diverse community with members who are suffering because of unemployment; the health care should be made affordable to this people because most of them have no means of livelihood.
The nurse should also focus on the causes of diseases and death, as well as disability in the community, and this might include physical environment, behavioral response, nutrition, unemployment and access to health care. The nurse, being a health care professional should also look at the community’s strength in terms of skills and assets, and use them to improve the community’s unemployment, health and safety (Alston, 2004). The nurse should then bring the community and organizations together to contribute to the community’s overall development.
The nurse should also advocate for policies that promote the community’s health; for instance, pregnant women should visit health institutions every month for check-up, and take new born children for immunization. Also, in advocating for good health policies, the nurse should include the needs of the community in planning; this will ensure that the community’s interests are guarded (Alston, 2004). A nurse should also be consulted by government agencies on policy and regulation issues; this is because nurses understand issues and problems facing people in the community.
Role of a nurse in health care policy
As the health care system evolves, it needs leadership and policy skills of nurses to ensure a quality delivery of health care services to the community. Nurses have educational training, experimental background and values, as well as ethics needed in the health profession; this expands their role to participation in health care policy development. Nurses have the ability to identify problems in the society, and work together with those who make decisions as well as those in power to control the resources for the benefits of the community. Therefore, their involvement in the development of health policies ensures an affordable, accessible, high quality and safe health care (McCracken, 2010). The importance of their involvement in the development of policies is continually being appreciated; nurses are continuously being elected and appointed at different levels to engage in health policy development.
Nurses have nursing organizations, which give them chances to develop better leadership skills required in health policy development as well as partnership strategies; such organizations include AWHONN. This organization has developed a health policy agenda, which reflects nurses’ passion to provide health care services to communities, families and women and children (McCracken, 2010). However, this is not enough, nurses need to seek more knowledge and understanding of the process at all levels, as well as the politics involved. There are also the Ohio Nurse Association representatives, who are fighting to make sure that nurses’ voices are heard on policies concerning health.
There is continued growing importance in the involvement of nurses in the health policy development; according to Mason, Leavitt, & Chaffee, (2007), this is because health policies are evidence based. A nurse is considered as a leader by the community, he or she is able mobilize groups and access resources that are needed to reform the health system. Nurses are also considered as people who deliver social justice and execute concerns of the most vulnerable populations; this is according to the health and human services department (McCracken, 2010). This is an important aspect that is required to build policies that include the needs of the vulnerable populations in the community, for instance, the population that is unemployed.
Nurses are indeed the heart of the health system; this is seen from the roles they play in health institutions and in the community. Their role in health care is continuing to expand, as their involvement in health policy development is increasing its importance. Policy development is something that already in the nursing practice and nurses only need to be actively involved in the process, for their voices to be heard; they should take their positions as masters in the health care system.
Alston, R. (2004). Role of a Nurse in Health Care. London: University of New England Press.
Fyffe, T. (2009). Nursing shaping and influencing health and social care policy. Journal of Nursing Management, 17(3), pp. 698–706.
Mason, D., Leavitt, J. & Chaffee, D. (2007). Policy and politics in nursing and health care. St Louis, MO: Elsevier, Inc.
McCracken, A. (2010). Advocacy: It is time to be the change. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 36(3), pp. 15-17.