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How higher education empowers nurses to influence healthcare policy and enhance patient care

by Editor

Healthcare policy is a crucial determinant of the quality, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare for individuals and populations. However, the health system in the US and many other countries faces complex and diverse challenges in the 21st century, including pandemics, aging populations, chronic diseases, health disparities, rising costs, and workforce shortages. 

These challenges require evidence-based, innovative, and collaborative solutions that involve multiple stakeholders, including healthcare professionals and consumers. Among healthcare professionals, nursing professionals with advanced qualifications are essential for influencing healthcare policy and improving health outcomes. They have the knowledge, skills, and leadership needed to address many pressing issues in healthcare. 

Here is a look at how advanced nursing education prepares nurses to participate in healthcare policymaking and patient care. 

Leading healthcare policy changes

Healthcare challenges are complex and constantly changing, and nursing professionals with advanced or doctoral qualifications are needed to tackle them effectively. Nurses can identify and address the gaps and barriers in the healthcare system, such as access, quality, safety, equity, and efficiency. They have a unique perspective and a deep understanding of the healthcare system and can use their knowledge and skills to advocate for policy changes that meet patients’ current and future needs. 

These nursing professionals have led many successful advocacy initiatives. For example, some nursing agencies have successfully advocated for expanding the scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). This has enabled nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists to improve access and quality of care for underserved populations.

In addition, these professionals have shaped policies that address gaps and inequalities in healthcare access and delivery. They have supported initiatives that foster diversity, address the social factors that affect health, and ensure fair allocation of healthcare resources.

The insights gained from a nursing leadership degree are crucial for shaping healthcare policies. Baylor University offers an online DNP in Executive Nurse Leadership that addresses the evolving needs of patients and the healthcare system, bringing a holistic, patient-centered, and population-based perspective to healthcare policymaking.

These contributions can help bridge the gap between research and practice by translating and disseminating the best available evidence to inform and improve healthcare policy decisions and outcomes. Furthermore, they can empower and engage other nurses and stakeholders to participate in healthcare policy advocacy by providing mentorship, education, and support.

Improving nursing practice

Nurses with advanced qualifications are vital for improving the standards of nursing practice. They possess a deep knowledge of the latest healthcare developments and use it to create positive change in the nursing community.

These nurses are leaders in developing and implementing evidence-based practices. They apply the latest research findings to their daily care, ensuring their nursing interventions are based on the best available evidence. This improves patient outcomes and quality of care. It also encourages their peers to think critically and adapt to new situations.

In addition, nursing professionals with advanced qualifications can take on leadership roles beyond conventional limits. They lead with vision and foster a culture of ongoing improvement and innovation within the nursing community. These nurses encourage their colleagues to adopt new technologies, methods, and best practices, fostering a progressive approach to patient care.

This leadership affects not only individual practices but also the overall outlook of the nursing profession while helping it adapt to the constantly changing healthcare environment. In short, these professionals act as catalysts for change, directing the nursing community toward higher levels of practice, innovation, and, ultimately, better patient care.

Enhancing patient outcomes

The level of education of nursing professionals, especially those with advanced or doctoral degrees, has a strong and positive effect on patient outcomes. The link between the education level of these nurses and better patient care is evident in numerous aspects of healthcare delivery.

Research has linked nursing professionals with an advanced education to better patient outcomes. For example, lower death rates, fewer patient problems, and better quality of care are seen in hospitals and healthcare facilities where many of the nurses have baccalaureate degrees. The high-level knowledge and skills gained through intensive education help these professionals handle complex patient situations, make intelligent decisions, and provide higher care.

Introducing policies shaped by highly educated nursing professionals has led to real improvements in patient care. Policies that support standardized procedures, improved teamwork across disciplines, and advanced training for nursing staff lead to smoother and more effective healthcare delivery. This results in fewer hospital returns, quicker recovery, and happier patients.

The skills of nursing professionals with advanced education support patient-centered care. Their skills in incorporating research, using evidence-based practices, and adjusting care plans to suit each patient’s needs ensure a more personal and thorough approach.

These nurses are good at communicating effectively, building trust with patients, including them in decision-making, and creating a patient-focused care environment. Ultimately, this dedication means better health results and a better quality of life for those under their care.

Professional development 

By pursuing advanced qualifications, nurses can contribute to their field and advance their careers. With advanced or doctoral degrees, nurses have many opportunities for lifelong learning, participating in cutting-edge research, and taking on leadership roles in healthcare settings.

Advanced qualifications allow nurses to join specialized training programs, keeping them updated on the latest developments in healthcare. They become skilled at applying research results to practical situations, helping to shape the future of nursing practice. Moreover, these highly qualified professionals often take on mentorship and educational roles, passing on their knowledge and skills to future nurses.

Transforming healthcare through advanced qualifications 

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and professionals with advanced nursing qualifications play a crucial role in this transformation. These qualifications enable nursing professionals to go beyond their practice and create positive change throughout the healthcare system. They also demonstrate their dedication to excellence and innovation, which makes them essential for improving patient care and raising the standard of nursing practice. Nurses with advanced qualifications have a lasting impact on the nursing field and their community. 

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