Opportunities Abound with Healthcare Reform
by, 01-26-2011 at 10:42 AM (9215 Views)
Among the new members of 112th Congress sworn in on January 4, 2011 were four nurses – Renee Elmers, R-NC, Diane Black, R-Tenn, Ann Marie Buerkle, R-NY, and Karen Bass, D-Calif – bringing the total number of nurses currently serving in Congress to seven. In addition, many nurses serve in elected and appointed positions in state legislatures and local governments across the nation.
Yet, nurses remain largely invisible in policy making circles.
For years nurses quietly have fought to be seen as full partners in the healthcare system. We established nurse managed clinics to provide care to underserved populations and demonstrated creative ways to coordinate care for medically complex patients while improving outcomes.
However, a 2010 Gallop poll “Nursing Leadership from Bedside to Boardroom: Opinion Leaders’ Perception” indicated nurses are not viewed as important decision makers. In fact, leaders in this study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ranked nurses behind six other stakeholders when it comes to those expected to influence healthcare reform.
The recently released Institute of Medicine / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report on the Future of Nursing marks the beginning of a new era for nursing. The report, which highlights nurse’s wisdom and expertise, recommends numerous strategies to transform the healthcare system.
Although some of these changes in care delivery, practice, and education can be addressed at the federal level, many will require state legislative or regulatory action.
While healthcare reform debates are resuming at the federal level, the states have been busy addressing reforms. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 33 states have established an entity to implement the new federal law.
At the national, state, and local level there is much work to be done if nursing is to shape our healthcare future.
So, while we celebrate the seven nurses serving in Congress we must recognize that more nurses must become engaged in shaping legislation, regulations and health policy to improve our nation’s health.
Opportunities are bountiful – from serving on state boards to hospital boards or even being groomed to step into elected office.