This topic was taken by Nurse Oba Adeboye Solomon on the Nursingworld Nigeria Whatsapp Group on the 7th of December 2017.
Politics according to Oxford advanced learners dictionary is defined as the activities involved in getting and using power in public life and being able to influence decisions that affects a country or society. Politics is a process involving modalities of power involved in controlling, shaping and designing public policies, laws or regulations etc which has effects on General public. Politics as a dynamics of power, is found in every institution, from a personal relationship to the family, to the community to a lager collections of people. Wherever power is at play (which is everywhere), there is politics.
Nursing on the other hand is the largest medical profession in the world with nearly 4million Nurses in the United states and about 240,000 Nurses in Nigeria respectively (NMCN). As such, Nurses have a potential to profoundly influence policy and politics on a global scale. In fact, it is the moral and professional ethics to be engaged in legislation that impacts their patients (Nurse as an advicate).
When Nurses influences the politics that improve the delivery of healthcare, they are ultimately advocating do their patients. Unfortunately Nurses have historically had little involvement in policy that affects healthcare delivery.
FACTORS LIMITING NURSES PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS
There are several reasons for the limited nursing participation in politics:
1. Lack of awareness,
2. Inadequate skills and
3. Mittle opportunity for involvement are just few factors including the limited formal health care policy education in Nursing.
Regardless of the multiple factors limiting the nursing profession's potential impact on politics, the fact remains that Nurses are vital to the development and implementation of health care policy. As the largest medical profession in the world, Nurses should be leading the way in redesigning the healthcare system; but in order to do so, they will need partner with members of other medical professions such as physicians etc. For this to happen, Nurses must be skilled in patient's care as well as interdisciplinary team work, information and technology, implementing evidenced based practice and quality improvement.
REASONS WHY NURSES SHOULD BE POLITICALLY ACTIVE
As young aspiring politician and a professional Nurse, here are my top 3 reasons why Nurses need to be politically active:
1: POLITICS CAN CHANGE THE WORK WE DO
Political factors can have a substantial impact on what type of work we do as Nurses, because of the impacts on the society. A good example is the *law passed by Lagos-State government asking motorbikes (Okada) to stay off major highways in the state. This means there will be fewer Car/Motorcycle accidents as a result of this law. Fewer trauma codes, fewer ICU admissions, fewer fatalities. Laws, policiesand political decisions in the society has a direct or indirect Impact on our job.
2: WE CAN REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF THE NURSING PROFESSION
Most Nurses are experiencing or have experienced a period where they have been short paid (Salary not up to work load), wage freezes, working without a contract, decrease hospital funding, strikes (i.e JOHESU strikes in federal institutions). Nurses can follow these funding decisions directly to their impact on patients care; because our role in providing patients care. When we vote, we elect people who will make budgeting decisions, we can vote for people who will support our Job security, and adequate funding for healthcare. We can also reinforce the importance of Nursing profession by contacting politicians to share information and let them know that we Nurses vote too.
Political activities gives Nurses opportunity to represent and advance our professional values.
3: WE CAN ADVOCATE FOR OUR PATIENTS
The most important reason to be politically active is because politics is a means for Nurses to advocate for their patients. Advocacy is very important for Nurses because social justice is a core Value of the Nursing profession. When we work in clinical settings, we can help one patient at a time and this work is central to our profession. When we vote, sign a petition, contest or participate in a political event, we can potentially help thousands of people at a time. Political activity takes the work of Nurses from being a discreet event in one setting and raises it to a societal level.
A lot of the social determinants of health can be impacted through political decisions. Nurses can help to protect health care access for vulnerable populations.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO BE INVOLVED POLITICALLY?
There are many ways Nurses can be politically active. Some suggestions include:
- VOTE! (2019 general elections is around the corner)
- Call or E-mail your elected representatives, and tell them about an issue that matters to you (probably in client's care, Hospital administration, as a professional body) in other words, lobby on behalf of your profession if u can.
- Engage with political party or organization in your immediate environment and social media and Don forget to always share information with your followers ( be a card carrier of a political party).
- Actively participate in your Nursing union or sub-specialty associations.
- Join a reasonable protest or demonstration.
- Run for political positions or office either in your local government down to the federal level.
- TALK POLITICS!
- Don't be a Timid Nurse speak out where applicable.
- Volunteer to participate in policy meetings or related activities.
- Catch them young: Encourage student Nurses to participate in students politics.
What Nurses don't realize is that they are politicians already whether they are negotiating with patients at the bed side, with employers on hospital committees or as a member of organizations.
Every Nurse should be a political nurse because we are such a caring large constituency for people. We are important to people, so we have to take our practice beyond the school, bed side, and research and set it in a larger way into community involvement, Which means being an activist, volunteer or informed citizen.
Thank you for your time
Nurse Oba Adeboye Solomon
0813 118 3065
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