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Nursing has become one of the largest professions in the world, and as such, nurses have the potential to influence policy and politics on a global scale (Milstead & Short, 2019). When nurses influence the politics that improve the delivery of healthcare, they are ultimately advocating for their patients. Hence, policy-making has become an increasingly popular term among nurses as they recognize a moral and professional obligation to be engaged in healthcare legislation (Burke, 2016). There exist opportunities for RNs and APRNs to actively participate in policy-making. However, with the opportunities can come.

To be influential, nurses – particularly RNs and APRNs – must see themselves as professionals with the responsibility and capacity to influence healthcare policies delivery systems (Burke, 2016). Nurses can lean towards the nature of nursing, which is a “science of caring” or operate from a framework that values all people in a holistic way to advance people’s health. RNs and APRNs can influence practice standards and processes to assure quality of care.


Considered as advanced and specialized professionals, RNs and APRNs can sit on committees or panels panel that give expert advice to policy makers (Tummers & Bekkers, 2014). Secondly, RNs and APRNs can become part of or conduct research that provided evidenced based support in policy making. Writing white papers, newspaper editorials, position statements, and other informative correspondence that educates the public and policymakers about the needs can support improvement of healthcare outcomes and overall improved nursing care (Milstead & Short, 2019).

With opportunities come challenges.

Policymakers may be unwilling to listen to expert advice or evidence-based research on particular policies to further either their political or personal agenda. In such as case resilience and advocacy can help make the policymakers change their mind (Burke, 2016).  Furthermore, sometimes some people (and/or policymakers) may question white papers, research, position statements, newspaper editorials or other correspondences that educate the public and policy makers (Burke, 2016). When that happens, you can seek the support of other stakeholders who support the evidence to help advance the policy agendas.

Finally, as an RN/APRN you may be required to advocate for or communicate these opportunities to participate in policymaking. You can do that in many ways. Two of the ways include;

  • Volunteering in policy-related activities including development meetings.
  • Participating in activities that advance health-policy driven agendas.
  • Seek appointments and serve on committees, boards, and leadership groups that have decision-making power.


Milstead, J. A., & Short, N. M. (2019). Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

  • Chapter 5, “Public Policy Design” (pp. 87–95 only)

Tummers, L., & Bekkers, V. (2014). Policy implementation, street level bureaucracy, and the importance of discretion. Public Management Review, 16(4), 527–547. doi:10.1080/14719037.2013.841978.

Burke, S. A. (2016). Influence through policy: Nurses have a unique role | Reflections on Nursing Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.reflectionsonnursingleadership.org/commentary/more-commentary/Vol42_2_nurses-have-a-unique-role

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