Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper

Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper

Advocating for Policy Change

Professional nurses are responsible for advocating not only for their patients but for the general population. Through dedication, hard work, and commitment, nurses can improve health outcomes within the community. It takes a diverse group of individuals to tackle community health issues. The professional nurse can become a vital force toward this effort by putting together a great team to address local health concerns. Through passion and perseverance, the professional nurse can have a positive impact on the community.

Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper

The Nurse Advocate

Nurses who advocate for an at-risk population in the community direct their advocation toward the legislature. Nurses can begin exploring resources and opportunities for education through the American Nurses Association (ANA) (Williams et al., 2018 Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper). Nurses can join associations such as the ANA, where concerns on health issues can be presented. The ANA will then pass along those concerns upstream toward legislation where changes can be made. Being part of an organization like the ANA allows the nurse to be part of larger-scale health improvement projects. On the other hand, nurses advocating for individual patients in clinical practice direct their advocation toward the health care team. Interprofessional teams within the health care system can join forces to address issues and provide patient-centered care. Advocating for individual patients addresses health care issues on a much smaller scale but still impacts improving health.

The focus is different for each advocacy approach. For example, the focus for the at-risk population will be on improving social determinants of health (SODH) which significantly impact health issues. Nurses can collaborate to improve population health by addressing the SODH (Williams et al., 2018). On the other hand, the focus for individual patients in the clinical practice will be on safety, education, protecting patient rights, and connecting patients to resources (Nitzky, 2018). By focusing on these aspects of care, patient outcomes can be improved.

Evidence-Based Strategies

Promoting interprofessional collaboration within the advocacy action team (AAT) can be done through evidence-based practice (EBP) strategies. Data gathered from institutions that have been awarded national recognition acknowledges that high functioning critical care teams are known for their excellent patient care (Reinke & Hammer, 2011). One EBP strategy is a daily goals worksheet. A study performed at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York trialed daily goal worksheets at the bedside.

They concluded that physicians and nurses had a better understanding of patient goals. Goals of care and communication were improved, and hospital stays were shortened (Narasimhan et al., 2006). While this is an example of how goal worksheets can be utilized at the bedside, this writer believes it could also work within the AAT. By creating and maintain a goal worksheet to be used during meetings, individuals on the team can stay organized. Having set goals created and maintained by the team allows consensus and dedication. Another way to promote interprofessional collaboration is through technology.

Many diverse applications can be used to collaborate with fellow team members. One study, conducted at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, found that implementing Google doc and Google hangout improved patient care by allowing everyone on the care team to give updates and review changes in real-time. This cut down on constant patient rounding by different team members, improving patient satisfaction and patient outcomes (Shaffer & Speakman, 2014). The same technology can be applied within an AAT to promote interprofessional collaboration.

Having a virtual place where individuals can contribute to the project fosters teamwork and accountability. Team members can utilize virtual applications remotely when the team is unable to meet in person. Using technology contributes to the organization of the project, and it gives all members a vested interest in all areas of the work completed.

The At-Risk Population Data

When it comes to obesity, Arkansas ranks 48 out of 51in the nation (aspire Arkansas, n.d.). When evaluating trends, this writer found that Arkansas’s percentage of obese individuals has increased 5% in the last seven years (aspire Arkansas, n.d.). USA Facts (n.d.) confirms that Arkansas ranks 3rd highest in the nation for obesity, increasing 8% in the last ten years. Why is this information important? Obesity puts individuals at greater risk for health problems, increases mortality rate, and increases medical costs.

Characteristics of the At-Risk Population

The at-risk population includes adults over the age of 20. These adults can be further characterized into groups of males and females. 69% of females and 72% of males in Arkansas are obese (aspire Arkansas, n.d.). These individuals can be further characterized by ethnicity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021), the obese population is divided into three ethnic groups. They are non-Hispanic white adults – 35.6%, Hispanic white adults – 32.5%, and non-Hispanic black adults – 44.7.

Social Determinate of Health (SDOH)

According to County Health Rankings (n.d.), 32% of the Boone County population is physically inactive. This is higher than the national average and predisposes individuals to obesity. Additionally, only 54% of individuals in Boone County have access to exercise opportunities (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, n.d.). While there are local gyms and exercise venues, it costs money to utilize them. There is a local community center; however, there is no exercise equipment located within the center. There is a pool and a basketball gym, but those also come at a cost. Individuals who cannot afford to access exercise opportunities are predisposed to obesity—leading to the third SDOH, the poverty level in Boone County.

According to the United States Census Bureau (n.d.) the average household income in 2019 for Boone County was $45,374. This is drastically lower than the national average household income of $62,843. The United States Census Bureau (n.d.) also states the poverty level within the county is 15.1% as compared to the national average at 10.5%. The low household income and high poverty level heavily contribute to the obesity rates within the county.

Current Policy

Researching the official website, Boone County, Arkansas (n.d.), several ordinances were found. These ordinances addressed the annual budget for all the employees within the county, appropriations made to the county fire department and sheriff’s department, the airport construction project, county road projects, and the covid relief project. None of the ordinances found addressed the SDOH predisposing the population to obesity. The low-income rate, high poverty level, lack of physical activity, and access to exercise opportunities within the county are not addressed within any of the ordinances. The City of Harrison, Arkansas (n.d.) also did not have any ordinances to address the SDOH. Ordinances found for the city of Harrison address businesses, pets, alcohol, firearms, fireworks, property management, fowl and other animals, loitering, vicious dogs, etc. These findings lead the writer to conclude that there are insufficient policies in place to address the contributing factors to obesity within the county.

Policy Proposal

Adopting the Complete Streets policy at the county or community level could significantly impact obesity rates by addressing the SDOH mentioned previously, physical inactivity, lack of exercise opportunities, and low-income rates. The Complete Streets policy “requires or encourages a safe, comfortable, integrated transportation network for all users, regardless of age, ability, income, ethnicity, or mode of transportation” (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). All users can be defined as pedestrians, bicyclists, transit vehicle users, and motorists. Roadways are traditionally designed for motor vehicles. This poses a barrier to use by pedestrians and cyclists and limits safe, active transportation (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). The proposed project will add sidewalks, crosswalks, and bicycle paths throughout the entire community. Additionally, roadways will be connected to reduce motor vehicle traffic through more rural areas. This will ensure pedestrians’ safety in those areas, but it will also improve the flow of traffic and commute for motorists.

One can make a connection between lack of physical activity and obesity. A sedentary lifestyle increases weight gain and places individuals at risk for health disparities such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and increases stress. Keeping active individuals can stay at a healthy weight or lose weight and lower the risk of health disparities (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 2012).

According to Smart Growth America (2010), the Complete Streets policy increases physical activity by adding safe places for walking and cycling. These exercise activities will be available to the community at no cost. No-cost exercise opportunities will help individuals with low income and those who live below the poverty level. Implementing this policy will encourage the population to become more physically active through availability and affordability.

The Complete Streets policy upholds provision 2 and provision 4 from the ANA code of ethics. Provision 2 states, “The nurse’s primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, community or population” (American Nurses Association, 2015 Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper).

Provision 4 states, “The nurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursing practice; makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to promote health and to provide optimal care” (American Nurses Association, 2015 Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper). Per provision 2, advocating for the Complete streets project shows this nurse’s commitment to the community. Per provision 4, this nurse is utilizing her authority to be accountable for nursing practice. She is making decisions and taking actions through research to promote health within the said community leading to optimal health. The potential barriers impeding the implementation of this policy proposal would be the current city budget allotted for street projects and current COVID restrictions slowing the process of creating and finalizing the said policy.

Policy Maker

The city council, under the mayor’s leadership, makes up the legislative body of the city.

The mayor has a shared responsibility with the council members to vote on and implement a policy proposal. The mayor can have a strong influence within the group of council members. He holds a high position of authority and is a respected and trusted individual. The mayor for Harrison, AR, is Jerry Jackson. Implementing the Complete Streets policy would be decided upon by the mayor and council members of the city.

Strategies to Strengthen Professional Practice as a Policy Advocate

As a professional nurse, I can implement strategies for strengthening my professional practice as a policy advocate. I will begin with research and education. To understand how policies pass through legislation, I will research and educate myself on the processes. It is essential to understand how policies are made before attempting to propose one. I will then examine current policies on health improvement to understand better how those were created and implemented. Finally, I will begin building relationships with individuals responsible for approving and implementing a policy proposal. Attending local quorum court meetings is a great way to interact and develop relationships with council members accountable for policy implementation.

Advocating for Policy Change Sample Paper References