Nurses as Self-Styled Lobbyists and Advocates
Published: 16 January 2020
Published: 16 January 2020
When we think of political lobbyists or advocates, we often think of professional influencers who represent large industries like oil and gas, automobile manufacturers, and others.
In the United States, some nursing organisations employ lobbyists to influence legislators regarding healthcare-related bills that come before various deliberative bodies like the U.S. Senate or Congress, or their counterparts at the state level.
More nurses are realising their voices matter and that they can indeed affect political, legislative, and societal change in this complex 21st century when so much seems to be at stake.
Can individual nurses be self-styled ‘lobbyists’ or advocates and influence those with decision-making power?
How can nurses more readily advocate for those causes, people, and groups they care about?
Here in the U.S., the annual Gallup poll demonstrates year after year that Americans view nurses as the most honest and trustworthy professionals, and this high esteem is likely reflected in other countries as well.
Nurses are in a powerful position to serve as advocates for those less likely to be listened to, whether for the poor, the sick or disabled, young children, teenagers, indigenous peoples, single mothers, or the elderly.
In societies where power dynamics are such that disenfranchised communities lack a voice, nurses are able to speak on their behalf.
From chronic disease to the impact of poverty, nurses have their finger on the pulse of many timely issues.
Thus, nurses hold the key to bringing salient issues to the attention of those who hold power, whether it’s the media, the government, or other influential individuals or groups.
While nurses can sometimes seem apologetic for having an opinion or making waves, there are also those outspoken nurse advocates who consistently put themselves on the line for the vulnerable; these individuals truly make a difference.
Nurse advocacy takes many forms, depending on context and circumstance. With the potential of receiving the attention of decision-makers and power brokers, nurses can use their professional standing as a megaphone for stepping up and speaking out.
Nurse lobbying or advocacy comes in many forms, including but not limited to:
Insofar as nurses creating their own platforms for addressing crucial timely issues, finding a foothold in the mainstream media may not always be easy, thus it may sometimes be most efficacious for earnest nurses to strike out on their own.
Nurses can leverage audio or video technology to express their views via podcasting or YouTube, or writing via a blog or website; meanwhile, those podcast episodes or individual videos can then be brought to the attention of the media through press releases and other publicity.
Nurses should never underestimate the influence they can wield in terms of public discourse. As highly trusted professionals, nurses’ opinions matter, but they must first believe in the power of their own voices in order to be effective and convincing.
It’s incumbent upon nurses to get in touch with their own powers of persuasion, find their inner voice, and then choose actions or interventions with the most impact.Nurses can and do effect change in the world; in that regard, they can actively decide to become educated on topics of importance, formulate their opinions, and step outside of their comfort zones by inserting themselves into conversations that shape our policies, lifestyles, and societies.
Nurses’ voices are crucial; have you found yours?