Examine a Nursing Organization
Professional nursing organizations are an important resource for both individual nurses and for a profession seeking to influence healthcare policy. Goolsby and DuBois (2017) argue that professional nursing organizations are essential for protecting the nursing profession and for advancing nursing practice. For the discussion this week, I chose to review the American Nurses Association (ANA) and its current policy initiatives. Information provided by the ANA indicates that, currently, the organization has more than 4 million members ((ANA, 2020a). This includes registered nurses at all levels of expertise including those educated at the masters and doctoral levels ((ANA, 2020a). When registered nurses sign up to become a member of the ANA, they are also provided with membership in their state chapter of the ANA (ANA, 2020a). While some policy action occurs at the state level through actions taken by the ANA, the organization has also developed federal policy statements to address broader population health issues that affect all patients and nurses.
The costs of ANA membership are determined at the state level. However, nurses can become an ANA members at the national level for $180 per year (ANA, 2021b). This provides the nurse with access to resources such as professional liability insurance services, auto insurance, access to the ANA online bookstore, access to ANA online continuing education, online learning for advanced degrees, and ANCC nurse certification (ANA, 2021b). Federal issues currently being addressed by the ANA include: reducing gun violence, the nursing shortage, appropriate staffing, workplace health and safety, and environmental health. Various other state policy issues are being addressed by the organization as well. Nurses participating in the organization can choose an issue to support and can work with the ANA to bring about policy change at the state and/or federal level (ANA, 2020c).
As noted the legislative initiatives being undertaken at the federal level include myriad concerns for both healthcare and the nursing profession. Three important issues chosen for review in this discussion include reducing gun violence, appropriate staffing, environmental health (i.e., action on climate change). Each of these issues has implications for nursing and for improving population health.
Position on the Initiatives
My position on each of the issues being addressed by the ANA is supportive of the position offered by the nursing organization. Gun violence continues to be a significant threat to individual and population health (Rajan et al., 2018). Despite this, the government continues to limit research on the topic, impeding the ability of policymakers to create common-sense legislation to control gun violence (Rajan et al., 2018). Arguably, this is a challenging concern due to the Constitutional issues involved with the topic. However, given that so many individuals die each year as a result of gun violence, it would seem that there is a time to take action on this problem through clear-cut legislation that will improve public health while also enhancing the ability of communities to effectively address the problem.
The second issue noted by the ANA as a policy priority involves the topic of safe staffing. The focus of this policy is not to implement nursing ratios per se. Rather the goal is to address staffing issues in nursing through safe staffing plans. Even though nursing ratios have been shown to have some benefit for improving patient and nursing outcomes, this tool has been criticized for being too rigid in terms of meeting the specific staffing needs of the organization (Lasater eta l., 2021). As a result, staffing costs can increase dramatically as a result of ratios, prompting the need for a more pragmatic approach that focuses on safe staffing to meet the specific needs of patients (Lasater eta l., 2021). This approach is one that is supported as it makes sense to prioritize safe staffing without creating a situation in which policy results in the loss of revenue as ratios are too rigid for meeting staffing needs in a specific organization.
The final issue addressed by the ANA is with regard to climate change. Actions such as promoting awareness of the problem and committing to sustainability are important to consider, especially in light of the impact of climate change on human health. Scholars argue that climate change is having a transformative impact on human health and the implications will have a systemic impact on the ability of communities to manage population health in the future (Moulton & Schramm, 2017). What is evident is that our current path of ignoring climate change is unsustainable signifying that action must be taken on the issue, The ANA has recognized the scope and importance of the issue and is attempting to take action before the problem has an irrevocable impact on individuals and society. By making climate change a priority for policy development the ANA is sending a message about the importance of this issue and attempting to engage the nursing community in promoting change to improve environmental sustainability.
While each of the legislative priorities for the ANA is important for nurses to support, I chose to address the topic of gun violence. I feel as if this issue has not gotten the attention it deserves due, in large part, to the challenges involved with discussing this issue in a politically charged climate. The tweet I provided would be as follows:
#StopGunViolence by starting the conversation. Gun violence is one of the most under-researched areas of #publichealth. #Silencekills
American Nurses Association. (2020a). Join the ANA. https://www.nursingworld.org/membership/joinANA/ (Links to an external site.)
American Nurses Association. (2021b). FAQs. http://www.nursingworld.org/FunctionalMenuCategories/FAQs (Links to an external site.)
American Nurses Association. (2020b). Federal issues. Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/advocacy/federal/ (Links to an external site.)
Goolsby, M. J., & DuBois, J. C. (2017). Professional organization membership: Advancing the nurse practitioner role. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 29(2), 434-440. https://doi.org/10.1002/2327-6924.12483 (Links to an external site.)
Lasater, K. B., Aiken, L. H., Sloane, D. M., French, R., Anusiewicz, C. V., Martin, B., Reneau, K., Alexander, M., & McHugh, M. D. (2021). Is hospital nurse staffing legislation in the public’s interest? Medical Care, 59(5), 444-450. https://doi.org/10.1097/MLR.0000000000001519 (Links to an external site.)
Moulton, A. D., & Schramm, P. J. (2017). Climate change and public health surveillance: Toward a comprehensive strategy. Journal of Public Health Management Practice, 23(6), 618-626. https://doi.org/10.1097/PHH.0000000000000550 (Links to an external site.)
Ranjan, S., Branas, C. C., Hargarten, S., & Allegrante, J. P. (2018). Funding for gun violence research is key to the health and safety of the nation. American Journal of Public Health, 108(2), 194-198. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304235