How can nurses 'get political' in election year?Hmmm ... how to talk about politics and nursing and keep the reader engaged to the end of the editorial? Well, maybe I'll start with how I got into the politics of nursing and go from there. Firstly, how can you think nursing and politics can be separated? If, at the end of this editorial, you still believe that, then I have failed and will retreat to the Falkland Islands Falkland Islands (fôk`lənd), Span. Islas Malvinas, officially Colony of the Falkland Islands, group of islands (2005 est. pop. 3,000), 4,618 sq mi (11,961 sq km), S Atlantic, c.300 mi (480 km) E of the Strait of Magellan. and talk to penguins, who may know more than me about survival. More on that move later ...
I look back on the past eight years and wonder how I became be such a "political animal". When I first entered primary health care (PHC PHC Primary health care, see there ) in 1999, as a very quiet, anonymous, unassuming practice nurse, the PHC Strategy was just a whisper on the Independent Practitioners' Association (IPA IPA - International Phonetic Alphabet ) wind, and boy, were the doctors getting their wind up! They certainly knew how to get political. But then, historically, docs have always been very good at using the political wheel to drive their own agenda.
Putting my head above the parapet and asking those interminable in·ter·mi·na·ble
1. Being or seeming to be without an end; endless. See Synonyms at continual.
2. Tiresomely long; tedious.
in·ter questions "why?" or "why not?" is what keeps getting me into more political activity. "Why can't the nurses have some support for education?", in the old IPA days in general practice. "Why can't I see patients for half an hour, if I have the skills and education to meet their needs?" "Why does the PHC Strategy say nurses are crucial to its successful implementation but the Ministry of Health does not back up that rhetoric and policy with sound legislative changes?"
So, as you do when prescribing geriatric medication, I started low and went slow. Once I had done two years on an IPA and then a primary health organisation Primary Health Organisations (PHOs), in New Zealand, are a collection of health providers, which are funded on a capitation basis by the New Zealand Government via its District Health Board. (PHO) board, and then became chair of the New Zealand College New Zealand College (known as NZC) is an English language college in Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand. School Information
All parties that have an interest, financial or otherwise, in a firm-stockholders, creditors, bondholders, employees, customers, management, the community, and the government. in an argument. Because I had postgraduate education
Postgraduate education (often known in North America as graduate education, and sometimes described as quaternary education knowledge to assimilate and use. Because I finally realised I was an expert on nursing and that I had knowledge that needed to be heard in policy forums, to ensure people got services that would work for them, and for nursing.
A recent conference in Auckland, "Providing solutions for vulnerable populations" heard very good examples of what can be achieved for patients when nurses "get political". New models of nurse practitioner nurse practitioner
n. Abbr. NP
A registered nurse with special training for providing primary health care, including many tasks customarily performed by a physician. (NP) practice overseas--nurse-led, nurse-managed and patient-centered--are providing health care solutions. Moreover, they have legislative backing which supports funding and practice models that we can only dream of at this stage in the evolution of NPs here. Why is New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. moving so slowly with NP development when there is clear evidence it works and is good for people? Because nurses must overcome the political agendas of interest groups. Which nurses? All of us, as it is our practice and our patients who are disadvantaged by the tack of progress.
Policy without practice is nothing. Policy and practice without supporting legislation is worse than nothing. The nurse prescribing debacle is an example to note. Where would nursing be in this battle without nurses pushing their political barrow barrow, in archaeology
barrow, in archaeology, a burial mound. Earth and stone or timber are the usual construction materials; in parts of SE Asia stone and brick have entirely replaced earth. A barrow built primarily of stone is often called a cairn. on the national front? Not even on the agenda and way behind the times. Having said that, we now have many well educated nurses in positions where they could make a difference to population health but are unable to use those skills, because legislation has lagged behind both policy and practice.
American nurse scholar Donna Diers says nursing can't be confined con·fine
v. con·fined, con·fin·ing, con·fines
1. To keep within bounds; restrict: Please confine your remarks to the issues at hand. See Synonyms at limit. to nursing issues. (1) Nurses have a social responsibility to be advocates for those people we serve, the communities in which we live. Nurses know how the whole health system works--we are with people in their journey through the health system, all day, all night, on weekends and public holidays. We know when a policy or a political agenda does not make sense. So why don't we speak out? It's a question many have tried to answer, but only nurses know why. Susanne Gordon is a well known writer on nursing issues and the invisibility of nursing. She has even written a book to teach nurses how to get visible and political. (2) It's not rocket science--a letter to the editor of a local paper is a good start. Being political means having the courage of your convictions and using your nursing knowledge to debate the issues. It should be a well-built, sound, evidence-based argument, not a personal attack on the other side. When do you start? Well, a good time would be this year's general election. How do you choose? How about by looking at the different political parties' health policies? It a good chance to exercise your critical thinking. NZNO has already responded to one of the party's health policy. You can find the submission on the website (www.nzno.org.nz) to give you ideas on what to took for in such a policy.
Finally, I wish to salute all those nurses who are giants in the politics of nursing and who have been working for years on the political "front" --those who are in the media spotlight and those who, although not so visible, are still working within the politics of health to improve nursing services and patient care. I salute your passion, your perseverance and your unending patience and belief that one day it will be different and nursing will have what it needs to do an excellent job in New Zealand.
As for me, well I have a two-year compulsory holiday coming up, as my husband takes a job in the Falklands Islands. I may work in the National Health Service--I can't imagine two years on holiday really! I will be watching the health and nursing scene here from afar and rebuilding my reserves to re-enter re·en·ter also re-en·ter
v. re·en·tered, re·en·ter·ing, re·en·ters
1. To enter or come in to again.
2. To record again on a list or ledger.
v.intr. the fray on my return. Go well and vote wisely.
(1) Diets, D. (2004) Speaking of nursing ... Narratives of practice, research, policy and the profession. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers Inc.
(2) Buresh, B. & Gordon, S. (2006) From silence to voice: What nurses know and must communicate to the public. (2nd ed) Ithaca : ILR ILR Industrial and Labor Relations (Cornell University school)
ILR Institute for Legal Reform
ILR Indefinite Leave to Remain (United Kingdom)
ILR Institute for Learning in Retirement Press/ Cornell University Cornell University, mainly at Ithaca, N.Y.; with land-grant, state, and private support; coeducational; chartered 1865, opened 1868. It was named for Ezra Cornell, who donated $500,000 and a tract of land. With the help of state senator Andrew D. Press.
Rosemary Minto, RN, PGCert(practice nursing), MHPrac(Hons), works as an advanced practice nurse at the Katikati Medical Centre and works as clinical leader for a Maori mobile nursing service.