The Importance of Knowing Health Policy as a Nurse in the Field
Nurses come up against public health policy in their day-to-day activities. Being unaware of public policy will not matter during a review, and nurses are expected to know what the government permits for their occupation.
How public health policy affects nursing
Public health policy affects everything from the type of care that nurses provide to the way nurses provide that care. Nurses need to know what services are covered by their patients’ insurance and which services are not. This would also need to be communicated to the patient. If the service was performed, the patient would be on the hook for the bill and not the insurance company.
The cost of medical care is determined by public policy. Things like how much medications cost to copays and deductibles are often determined by public policy. Understanding these factors can mean that nurses know how to explain them to patients, as well as whether to prescribe certain medications or to offer lower-cost generic options instead.
Legal restrictions on nurses
Nurses also need to know what they are permitted to do and what they are not allowed to do in the field. Did you know that Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs) have legal restrictions placed on them in 29 states? These restrictions require the CNPs to work under physicians instead of allowing them to have their own independent practices. In those states, it would be illegal for a CNP to run a private practice without the supervision of a physician.
Making a difference
Nurses who are in the field need to know what is going on with public health policy. One way to do this is to pay attention to current events. Read any and all news regarding healthcare policy and how it might affect the way nurses do their jobs. Join nursing organizations or nursing action campaign organizations. Ask questions if you are not sure about something.
The importance of knowing health policy as a nurse in the field cannot be stressed enough. Nurses need to know the laws and regulations related to their jobs and how it affects the care that they can provide their patients. Nurses should also consider getting involved with Campaign For Action affiliates in their states to help shape public policy to improve healthcare policy.