HomeCommunityThe nursing profession’s potential impact on policy and politics

The nursing profession’s potential impact on policy and politics


Nursing is the largest medical profession in the world with nearly 4 million nurses in the United States alone. As such, nurses have the potential to profoundly influence policy and politics on a global scale. In fact, it is the moral and professional obligation of nurses to be engaged in legislation that impacts their patients. When nurses influence the politics that improve the delivery of healthcare, they are ultimately advocating for their patients. Unfortunately, nurses have historically had little involvement in policy that affects healthcare delivery.

There are several reasons for the limited nursing participation in policy and politics. Lack of awareness, inadequate skills, and little opportunity for involvement are just a few factors. Another barrier is the limited formal health care policy education in nursing. Time and resources are further obstacles to the nursing profession’s participation in politics. Additionally, studies show that nurses are not given sufficient support to generate the evidence needed to influence healthcare policy.

Regardless of the multiple factors limiting the nursing profession’s potential impact on politics, the fact remains that nurses are vital to the development and implementation of healthcare policy. As the largest medical profession in the world, nurses should be leading the way in redesigning the healthcare system. But in order to do so, they will need to partner with members of other medical professions such as physicians. For this to happen, nurses must be skilled in patient care as well as in interdisciplinary teamwork, informatics and technology, implementing evidence-based practice, and quality improvement.

All too often, nurses become frustrated by policies affecting nursing practice, particularly when those policies are written by individuals with limited healthcare knowledge and experience. This frustration often leads to negativity, disillusionment, bitterness, and burn-out. Instead, nurses should channel their frustrations into making a positive difference in their profession. As Oestberg states, “As nurses, we need to think of policy as something we can influence, not just something that happens to us.”

The truth is, any nurse can influence policy and politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Locally, nurses can become politically active by assuming leadership positions in the healthcare system or contacting elected officials about legislation affecting the industry. Nurses can obtain formal training in politics, become involved in city councils and committees, or even run for local office. And something as simple as exercising the right to vote can impact healthcare policy.

At the state and federal level, nurses can get involved in policy and politics by joining a professional nursing organization. These organizations often have lobbyists that bring nursing issues to Capitol Hill. Nurses can also write their state representatives regarding healthcare policy. Nurses can undertake internships with elected officials to personally work on matters affecting healthcare. And nurses can even run for state office — there are two nurses currently serving in the Florida State Legislature.

As Oestberg so succinctly points out, “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.” By joining their voices together, American nurses can influence the policy and politics that affect healthcare. Marquis and Huston define politics as “the art of using legitimate power wisely.” The nursing profession has significant power to profoundly impact healthcare policy on a global scale. Additionally, the nurses of today are younger, more educated, and more diverse. They bring more energy, more ideas, and more ingenuity to the nursing profession. Perhaps they will even bring more political activism.

However, nurses need support in order to effect change. And that support starts at home. Families and friends of nurses need to encourage political activism. Nursing schools need to include healthcare policy education as part of the curriculum, as well as encourage some level of political involvement from nursing students. Furthermore, the faculty of nursing schools should also participate in policy changes, thereby acting as role models for their students. Finally, employers need to provide staff nurses with the time, resources, and opportunities to influence local, state and federal policy. After all, healthcare legislation ultimately affects us all.

Jennifer J. Brokaw is a wound and ostomy specialist at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

Selected references

American Nurses Association. nursingworld.org/NurseLegislatorDirectory.aspx. 2016.

Budden JS, Moulton P, Harper KJ, Brunell ML, Smiley R. The 2015 national nursing workforce survey. J Nurs Regulation. 2016;7(1): s1-s92.

Falk NL. A health policy resource guide for nurses. J Contin Educ Nurs. 2014;45(5):203-4.

International Council of Nurses (2012). Going, going, gone: nurses in policy-making positions at WHO. Int Nurs Rev. 59(2), 155-158.

Kunaviktikul, W. (2014). Moving towards the greater involvement of nurses in policy development. Int Nurs Rev. 61(1), 1-2.

Marquis BL, Huston CJ. Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer. 2015.

Oestberg F. Policy and politics: why nurses should get involved. Nursing. 2012;42(12): 46-49.

Pamela, A. J., Edwards, N., & Spitzer, D. Kenyan nurses involvement in national policy development processes. Nurs Res Pract. 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/236573



  1. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this information. There are some conferences happening in which medical specialty would be “Nursing” and here is one of those conferences the conference details are given below.

    Respiratory Therapists: Oxygen Therapy: What you need to know to get it right for your patients. This webinar discusses evaluation and testing requirements for Long Term Oxygen Therapy (LTOT) treatment and guidelines.

    Source: https://www.emedevents.com/online-cme-courses/webcasts/oxygen-therapy-what-you-need-to-know-to-get-it-right-for-your-patients

  2. I found this article to be an interesting read as to why many nurses are not involved in politics and to learn of the ways that nurse can become involved in politics. Personally, I think the word “politics” has a negative association with it, and I could see why many nurses do not want to become involved. Many nurses enjoy taking care of their patients and being at the bedside to where they don’t want to become involved in administration and the business or political aspect of their job. I, myself, am a nursing student currently, and in the undergraduate classes we do not have classes on health policy or management, which looks at different topics in healthcare and regulations and policies. I do agree that many nurses become frustrated with the policies that they have to follow which can lead to burnout, which ultimately leads to a shortage of nurses. Since I am in nursing school at the moment, I can understand why new nurses would be overwhelmed to become involved in politics. Aa a new nurse, it is already overwhelming in trying to work and learn as a new nurse, that I would honestly not want to become involved in politics. I also think new nurses are unaware of the type of impact they can have on different policies at the local, state, and national levels; they may also not know where to even start becoming involved in politics as well. Fortunately, I do believe the up and coming generation of new nurses will become more involved in politics, and since nursing is the largest profession, I can only imagine what impact nurses and future nurses will have on health care policies and regulations.

  3. muy importante el articulo que explica los motivos de la escas influencia que posee enfermeria en las politicas publicas Asimismo indica cuales son los factores que ayudarian a la participacion activa en los distintos niveles donde trabajan las enfermeras

  4. Thanks for this article. Nurse Leadership is a successful long-term healthcare facility in the health care industry. Govt. should provide some support.

  5. Thank you for sharing your perspective on the many ways nurses can affect policies and politics. I am happy to see an employee of Tampa General Hospital shine. I have been eyeing this hospital for future employment opportunities.

  6. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing this information.Here we provide one nursing Conference the conference details are given as Aesthetic Medicine Training: Step 1 is organized by American Board of Aesthetic Medicine (ABAM) and will be held from Mar 01 – 03, 2019 at Bangkok, Thailand. The target audience for this medical event is Physicians (M.D. / D.O.), Nurses, Physician Assistants, and Dentists.

    For more information please follow the below link:

    Thank you,

  7. Hi.Good information.There are some conferences happening in which medical specialty would be Nursing and here is one of those conferences.

    CRNA Continuing Education Symposium and CRNA Anesthesia Seminars for Nurse Anesthetists.Palm Springs Oasis in the Desert 2019 Encore Symposium is organized by Encore Symposium and will be held from Feb 18 – 21, 2019 at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Palm Springs, California,USA.

    For more information please follow the below link:

    Thank You,

  8. Hi,
    Good information.There are some Conferences happening in which medical specialty would be Nursing and here is one of those conferences.

    CRNA Anesthesia Seminars and Continuing Education Conference for Nurse Anesthetists.Palm Springs’ Encore CPC Review 2019 is organized by Encore Symposiums and will be held from Feb 16 – 17, 2019 at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Palm Springs, California,USA

    For more information please follow the below link:

    Thank You,

  9. I think nurses should have the ressources to influence policies and politics regarding healthcare. At the end all of us will be affected. We are the largest medical profession, so we can do it. Together we are strong.

  10. I persevered through nursing school, despite the 20-hour days with clinical rounds in the early morning, lectures in the afternoon and care plans & papers until early morning hours. By the Grace of God, I passed when many others didn’t and even passed State Boards becoming a licensed RN. I did all of that in order to help people, to truly contribute to the greater good making life better for patients. From the get go, IE my first night on the floor, the nurse to patient ration made that impossible. With the patient # assignments and documentation mandates ever increasing, I left the hospital setting for a career in clinical research. Eventually those jobs were outsourced so I obtained telephonic and virtual registered nurse positions but the ratios/case loads are just as bad and worse. As insane as it is, a couple of years ago an insurance company demanded I make 125 case calls each day. Think about that for a minute. Even working ten-hour days and not taking any breaks at all that allowed only 4.8 minutes per call. With the chronically ill population with more than one comorbid condition 4.8 minutes was not even enough time to cover teaching medications much less disease education, memory decline/impairment, mobility issues, fall risks, nutrition, ADLs, or any of the other critical keys. I eventually simply refused to do it as did thousands of other RNs. That company now has LPNs making those so-called nurse advocacy calls asking only one question: “has anything changed since the last call?” Patients are literally dying and no one seem to care at all as long as those insurance companies’ executive officers continue making 25 -75 MILLION DOLLARS each year.

    Who started this race to see who could make the most money at the expense of each American patient?
    Richard Nixon made healthcare a “for profit” instead of a service industry. In 1973 when Nixon did an illegal personal favor for his friend and campaign financier, Edgar Kaiser, then president and chairman of
    Kaiser-Permanente. Nixon signed into law, the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, in which medical insurance agencies, hospitals, clinics and even doctors, could begin functioning as
    for-profit business entities instead of the service organizations they were intended to be. And which insurance company got the first taste of federal subsidies to implement HMOA73? It was Kaiser-Permanente to profit Nixon’s campaign financier, Edgar Kaiser. Such healthcare company executives
    currently make between 25and 75 MILLION each annually. Who suffers? Each and every American!
    This travesty forced on American Healthcare is not just a matter of nurse to patient ratios/caseloads. It is a matter of Profit over People due to the ‘FOR PROFIT” status of the industry due to Nixon. Let’s roll back the hands of time to a time when human decency mandated healthcare be a SERVICE industry!

  11. Hi,
    Good information.There are some Conferences happening in which medical specialty would be Nursing and here is one of those conferences.

    Taste of New Orleans 2019 Encore Symposium is organized by Encore Symposiums and will be held from Jan 28 – 31, 2019 at Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.

    For more information please follow the below link:
    Thank You,

  12. Hi,
    Good information.There are some Conferences happening in which medical specialty would be Nursing and here is one of those conferences.

    OB/GYN Conference – Survival Skills for Today’s Gynecologist is organized by World Class CME and will be held from Apr 12 – 14, 2019 at The Westin New York at Times Square, New York, USA. The target audience for this medical event is OB-GYN physicians.

    For more information please follow the below link:
    Thank You,

  13. Hi,
    Good information.There are some Conferences happening in which medical specialty would be Nursing and here is one of those conferences.

    Maternal-Fetal Imaging – Advances in OB-GYN Ultrasound is organized by World Class CME and will be held from Jan 18 – 20, 2019 at The Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, United States of America.

    For more information please follow the below link:
    Thank You,

  14. Hi,
    Good information.There are some Conferences happening in which medical specialty would be Nursing and here is one of those conferences.
    15th Annual Complex Cardiovascular Catheter Therapeutics: Advanced Endovascular and Coronary Intervention Global Summit (C3) is organized by C3-Interventional Academy and will be held from Jun 23 – 26, 2019 at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, Orlando, Florida, United States of America.
    For more information please follow the below link:
    Thank You,

  15. I am glad to read some nursing schools are including how to have a voice in changing policies in politics involving health care. This was not the case for me while in school. I think it is wonderful we now have nurses in political offices. We are the ones at the bedside and those who sit behind a desk and make the policies sometimes don’t have a clue. I have learned to become more involved and how to have a voice with policies at my hospital even if it is on a smaller level. I am also back in school and am now learning to how have a bigger influence in my profession.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Recent Content

For Nurse Practitioners

Couple talking to NP

Getting Covid Vaccine Won’t Hurt Pregnancy Chances; Getting Covid Could

Couples planning a pregnancy might be relieved to know that getting a Covid vaccine does not hurt their odds of conceiving, according to the...