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Mandating Nurse-Patient Ratios

Mandating Nurse-Patient Ratios

  • Nurses are the single largest group of healthcare providers, implying their consensus on various issues influencing the quality of patients’ outcomes (Abood, 2007)
  • Nurse workloads indicate the potentiality of patient outcomes, with lower workloads resulting in less mortality, especially regarding surgery patients (Aikan, et al., 2010).
  • Understaffing causes the cases of nurses’ burnouts and job dissatisfaction, leading to the reports on the quality of the work of nurses ranging only from fair to poor (Aikan, et al., 2010).
  • Each patient that is added to a nurses’ workload is often associated with a 7% increase in the rate of patients’ mortality after they undergo common surgeries, which is due to diminished attention, job burnouts and increased job dissatisfaction among the nurses (Aikan, et al., 2010)
  • The evidence is most visible on the example of California, which, as of 2006, had two fewer patients per nurse as compared to New Jersey, and a lower rate of mortality (Aikan, et al., 2010).
  • Institutions with higher proportions of nurses whose patient assignment complies with the benchmark ratios experience higher levels of job satisfaction, positive patient outcomes, lower turnover and less instances of burnout (Aikan, et al., 2010)
  • State-mandated nurse staffing ratio is one of the approaches to achieving improved hospital nurse staffing (Aikan, et al., 2010)
  • Most nurses in California, both holding usual roles and those in the management, believe that the implementation of the ratio legislation achieved its goals of nurse workloads reduction and the improvement of nurses’ retention (Aikan, et al., 2010)
  • Regardless of the approach adopted in improving the staffing of nurses in medical institutions, both the nurses and patients will undoubtedly achieve better outcomes from such changes (Aikan, et al., 2010)

My Strategies to Influence Votes

Strategies at Local Level

The main approach I would adopt would involve the provision of forums where nurses can learn about legislation and how it concerns their practice within the institution. These forums can take the form of policy internships or fellowships and introducing policy workshops (Abood, 2007). Such approach will ensure that nurses that have recently acquired an interest in advocacy can relate to the issue of nurse-patient ratio policies and join my quest in seeking its support.

In order to influence the votes on nurse-patient ratio policies, I can also pursue the establishment of mentorship programs among the existent and the new advocates of legislation. The mentorship allows the development of a fledgling supporter into the one who can articulate legal issues independently and in a manner that convinces legislators to change their stance (Abood, 2007). The introduction of the mentorship in this context would result in the nurses better expressing their views on the nurse-patient ratio legislation and communicating with others without any interest in the policy development. The nurses would also be effective in convincing of legislators to support the introduction of the policy within the state.

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Strategies at National Level

Many issues tend to be too complicated to be resolved through individual efforts or the use of letters and phone calls to lobby support (Abood, 2007). The nurse-patient ratio legislation is one of such issues, and it demands the joint efforts of advocates towards meeting the common goal. Consequently, another approach to influencing the votes for the policy would be the introduction or joining a professional nursing organization. The organization enables the nurses to access more resources, which results in more effective strategies of bringing their perspective to the process of policy making (Abood, 2007). In addition, the information used by the organizations is more reliable than that the individual nurses would access. This approach, therefore, enhances the capability of the group influencing the final vote more than individual efforts.

A core effective strategy in the accomplishment of voting influence is through direct participation in the voting process. Registering to vote and voting in all elections is a must for every nurse advocate, and is easily executed when the member is a part of professional body (Abood, 2007). This approach ensures that officials that articulate the nurse-patient ratio policy issue positively will remain in the office. In addition, I could also offer the information on the political standpoints of these leaders to ensure that the voting process is accurate. Such information acts as a tool to ensure the officials supporting the policy are elected to the office and remain there for as long as they retain the stand.

Increasing my Power to Influence Votes

In order to influence votes, I require having adequate power that can effectively combat opposing viewpoints. One of the most basic approaches, especially concerning legislation, is to form collaborations with those in power. In this case, politicians are the chief influencers of the policy-making process, as they have legitimate power, granted through the status or the role of the individual (Abood, 2007). Gaining relationships, no matter how distant, with the state congress person or senior officials in the American Nurses Association may guarantee me some power. With these relationships, I would have a better influence base on the rest of the nurses regarding matters on policy, including the nurse-patient ratio legislation.

An alternative approach would be to increase my credentials. Expert power relates to the possession of knowledge and skill that is needed by somebody else (Abood, 2007). In this case, I could seek out a diploma or certificate in policy-making or administrative issues relating to nursing practice. This choice would place me in a better position as to understand the needs of nurses relating to staffing, as well as the requirements on the development of policy. “Nurses, as the providers and consumers of health care services, have professional and personal experiences regarding the problems and possible solutions to share with policy decision makers,” (Abood, 2007). Therefore, being a qualified nurse, I would have the expert power from both the nursing and policy-making perspective. This outcome would mean I could influence both legislators and members of the nursing community.

Another viable option for the increase of my power would be the establishment of the mentorship programs and organizations dedicated to this policy. The fact that I was the pioneer of the organization would automatically grant me both legitimate and referent power, enabling my capability to influence opinion (Abood, 2007). In addition, the mentorship programs would enable creating a group of people that have a common objective. Nurses have the potential to counter the influence of medicine when it comes to making policy (Abood, 2007). The application of the power of numbers, therefore, would effectively enhance the chances of success in influencing the final vote.

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Conclusion

The introduction of the nurse-patient ratio policy can help to improve both patient and nurses’ outcomes. In order to achieve this change, the influence strategies are necessary both at local and national levels. Local strategies include internships and workshops on policy as well as the mentorship programs. National strategies include introducing professional bodies and voter registration. However, the increase of power would be necessary for raising more votes. This move would be accomplished through such measures as networking with politicians, increasing credentials and facilitating mentorship and organizations. These approaches would ensure the final vote emerged in favor of introducing the nurse-patient ratio policy.