Forward-looking nurses should be cognizant of the fact that their influence on health promotion and disease prevention can be amplified by political actions. Given that health reform in the US, in addition to cost, coverage, and quality, should address prevention, it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of participation in policy changes (Pender, Murdaugh, & Parsons, 2011). This paper aims to discuss a nurse’s role in reforming health policy.
Policy participation is a critical part of the nursing profession because healthcare practitioners are advocates for their patients’ health. It is widely documented that nurses are capable of shaping health policy at both local and national levels (Benton, 2012). To modify the current health conditions of people in their communities, nurses can engage with political leaders and authorities at the local level. This approach to policy changes eliminates unnecessary inefficiencies that can hamper the implementation of new initiatives (Pender et al., 2011).
Another way to advocate for health-promotion policies is to coordinate political involvement through participation in nursing associations. For example, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is an organization that provides members of the nursing profession with the platform and wherewithal necessary to realize tangible changes in health policy (Benton, 2012). Influence through policy can also be achieved by preparing reports to inform decision-makers and shaping policy agendas (Arabi, Rafii, Cheraghi, & Ghiyasvandian, 2014; Sharma & Romas, 2012).
Disease prevention and health promotion cannot be divorced from their economic underpinnings. A convincing economic case for preventive approaches to diseases is outlined in a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). The report reveals that the reduction of the impact of health risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets can save hundreds of billions of dollars (Merkur, Sassi, & McDaid, 2013). At the time when recourses dedicated to healthcare are becoming increasingly strained, it is necessary to ensure that people’s decision-making capabilities are increased to the point at which only bare minimum health interventions are needed.
When discussing the economics of health promotion, it is important to mention several cost-effective preventive measures that can bring considerable savings. For example, HIV prevention amounts to $335, 000 saved per person (“Economic benefits,” n.d.). Important, albeit a modest 5 percent decrease of the hypertension prevalence can translate into $25 billion savings for the US economy in 5 years (“Economic benefits,” n.d.). Healthcare costs can also be lowered by $3.7 billion per year by preventive alcohol abuse and tobacco cessation screenings (“Economic benefits,” n.d.). It has to be borne in mind that prevention substantially increases the productivity of employees; therefore, its economic benefits include higher labor efficiency, lower rates of injury, and a reduction in absenteeism.
The Office of Women’s Health and the Center for Minority Health are two governmental agencies that the student would partner within their work setting. The choice of the agencies is dictated by the fact that women and minorities are the most vulnerable groups in the US, which sanctions additional coordination and promotion of their health.
The paper has discussed the importance of and avenues for a nurse’s involvement in the reformation of health policy. It has been argued that, as champions of their patients, all nurses should actively participate in the transformation of health policy at both local and national levels. The most effective way to achieve meaningful changes is to become a member of a professional nursing organization.
Arabi, A., Rafii, F., Cheraghi, M. A., & Ghiyasvandian, S. (2014). Nurses’ policy influence: A concept analysis. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 19(3), 315-322.
Benton, D. (2012). Advocating globally to shape policy and strengthen nursing’s influence. OJIN, 17(1), 5-7.
Economic benefits of preventing disease. (n.d.). Web.
Merkur, S., Sassi, F., & McDaid, D. (2013). Web.
Pender, N., Murdaugh, C., & Parsons, M. A. (2011). Health promotion in nursing practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Sharma, M., & Romas, J. A. (2012). Theoretical foundations of health education and health promotion (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.