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Nurse Advocacy Through the Legislative Process, Essay Example

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Essay

The Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses recently held a Legislative Forum last March 22, 2013 at the Great Hall of the State House. Main representatives present during the forum include Ellen Story, David Yamada and Kay Khan who held presentations about workplace bullying and the scope of practice of Nurse practitioners. The discussion during the forum proved to be lively and engaging, serving a practical purpose and is aligned with relevant policies and legislations.

The first part of the forum deals with the scope of practice of nurse practitioners. A key difference between an APRN and a physician is their scope of practice, which is the authority granted by a state for the provision of health care (Hamric, Spross & Hanson, 2009). Ms. Stephanie Ahmed, president of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners explained the implications of the Nursing Practice Act. Under the proposed Comprehensive Nurse Practice Act, nurse practitioners will not be required to act under the supervision of a physician in prescribing medication nor mandated to collaborate with a physician. This legislation will also remove the two-fold regulations enforced on Nurse practitioners, answering only to the relevant board of Nursing and not to the Board of Registration in Medicine. The impact of nurse practitioners on the health status of local communities is undeniable.  In fact, a number of studies have concluded that APRNs provide the same quality of care as physicians, if not better (IOM, 2011).  Furthermore, without nursing practitioners, services taken over entirely by physicians become unaffordable. The expansion of advanced nursing practices both locally and abroad, points to the possibility that as the demand for healthcare reform and cost-containment continue to grow, the role of an enhanced and empowered nursing profession will also increase.

The second part of the forum discussed the issue of workplace bullying and the challenges it presents to nurses. It is acknowledged today that workplace bullying is a grave concern that has encroached on the nursing profession. Workplace bullying is defined as a form of abuse characterized by verbal threats, humiliation of others, and intimidation that places the victim at risk (Center for American Nurses, 2007). Literature on workplace bullying in the nursing profession indicates that it affects the employee’s morale and sense of job satisfaction. In fact, this type of abuse can have a financial burden on the healthcare organization itself if bullying continues and runs unchecked. According to Murray (2008), associated costs of workplace bullying can reach up to 4 billion dollars annually in addition to decreased productivity, dissatisfaction and work absences. It can also leave physical and psychological harm to victims as it can cause stress disorders, depression and can affect ability to maintain interpersonal relationships. Due to this identified concerns, there is a need to advocate for legal reforms to combat workplace bullying. David Yamada discussed the significance of a Healthy Workplace Bill which will increase accountability of employers and employees alike, prompt resolution of the bullying behavior and most of all, attempt to prevent the occurrence of workplace bullying. The bill however, will not tolerate false claims and intentionally abusive behavior must be established.

The forum is clearly enlightening as it deals with issues affecting nursing practice and the impact of the legislation process on key issues. It is apparent that the legislative process can help organizations to achieve their objectives and purpose and that there is a need to participate in order to advocate and promote the nursing profession. Participation and a certain degree of involvement is necessary, particularly at a time wherein healthcare is undergoing so many changes.

References

Center for American Nurses (2007). Bullying in the workplace: Reversing a culture. Silver Spring, MD.

Hamric, A. B., Spross, J. A., & Hanson, C. M. (2009).  Advanced Practice Nursing; An integrative approach (4th ed), Saunders

Institute of Medicine (2011). The future of nursing; focus on scope of practice (Issue Brief). Retrieved from http://iom.edu/reports/2010

Murray, J. S. (2008). No more nurse abuse. Let’s stop paying the emotional, physical, and financial costs of workplace abuse. American Nurse Today, 3(7), 17-19.

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