- Consider a time when there was an issue related to healthcare policy in your local, regional, or national community. If you pursued an opportunity to address the issue, describe the results. If you did not pursue the opportunity, describe the reasons.
My example goes back in time, but it is still at the forefront in some circles. Oregon’s Death with Dignity act was passed in 1994 but remains a challenging process for patients today (Andersen, 2020). There has been controversy surrounding this policy for nearly 30 years. The Death with Dignity act allows physicians to prescribe lethal medication n to end a patient’s life (Andersen, 2020). The caveat is that the patient must be of sound mind, have a terminal diagnosis with six months or less to live and to self-administer the medication (Hedberg & New, 2017). I was in nursing school when the bill passed for the second time after an attempt at repealing the law by the Supreme Court (Andersen, 2020). The bill was contested by the American Medical Association and the Catholic church (Andersen, 2020). I voted against the bill both times. That was as far as my action went with this bill. But I was disturbed that though the majority of Oregon passed the bill in 1994, the Supreme Court was able to halt the bill and place the repeal on a ballot in November of 1997 (Andersen, 2020). This has bothered me over the years as I became a nurse and witnessed the unbearable pain and suffering felt by patients.
- Propose an area of your political competency that needs further development and an action you could take to become more politically competent to impact your selected population.
Healthcare policy is an area of nursing practice in which I have not participated. This lack of participation can be attributed to my own lack of education on the subject. Warner’s article broke it down into simple concepts. Warner (2003) identified six themes from a qualitative study investigating political competence as a set of skills. Though I have never considered myself politically active, I value my role in patient advocacy. Reflecting on my practice over the years, I can consider some actions that can be considered as a piece of these six elements of political competence. For example, I have always been committed to nursing and value my expertise and that of my co-workers. Nursing has been an important part of my practice and nursing identity. I have progressed in my career using my skills as currency. I have used this currency to advocate for patients with expertise that others may not possess. However, my background is weak in networking outside the facility or system. I have not been as active as I could be in considering nursing and improving population health from the standpoint of political competence. Cervera-Gasch et al. (2022) describe a study of nursing students and their political competence. The authors found a connection between participation in community organizations and the development of political competence (Cervera-Gasch et al., 2022). This speaks to my weakness in networking outside of my normal practice. I recently became a peer evaluator for Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). This allows me to expand my network across the country while learning about the issues that nursing faces in communities outside my own. I look forward to continuing my growth as I learn and connect with colleagues and community members.
Andersen, J. (2020). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and a “death with dignity”. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 81(4), 576-577. https://doi.org/10.1177/0030222818788254 Links to an external site.
Cervera-Gasch, A., Mena-Tudela, D., Castro-Sánchez, E., Santillan-Garcia, A., Andreu-Pejó, L., & González-Chordá, V. M. (2022). Necessary political competences for nurses from the perception of the student body: Cross-sectional study in Spain. Nurse Education Today, 109, 105229–105229. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2021.105229 Links to an external site.
Hedberg, K. & New, C. (2017). Oregon’s death with dignity act: 20 years of experience to inform the debate. Annals of Internal Medicine, 167(8), 579-583. https://doi.org/10.7326/M17-2300 Links to an external site.
Warner, J. (2003). A phenomenological approach to political competence: Stories of nurse activists. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice. 4(2), 135-143. DOI: 10.1177/1527154403251855