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The Role of the RN/APRN in Policy Evaluation
Health policies easily influence the health of the public (Pollack et al., 2018). The policies touch on the very essential aspects of health as well as determinants of health. Therefore, it would be very prudent to ensure that there is evidence in health policies. Differently put, it would be prudent to make sure that evidence-based findings and guidelines are considered in the making and implementation of health policies. Notably, this should not be the end. During the implementation of the policy and after a particular while, there is a need to evaluate or review the policy in order to make sure that it has been having the desired effects. Data should be collected and ways of policy evaluation established in order to make sure that if gaps still exist, the policy can be adjusted or amended in order to close these gaps.
Policy Review Issues and Related Social Determinants of Health
Many opportunities for policy review exist. For instance, nurses are already aware of the existing health policies and what the intentions of the lawmakers were when they implemented the policy. The nurses themselves could have been integral in the making of the policy. As such, they will have a clear picture of what was intended. However, after a while, it may be clear that there are gaps in policies. This can be established through policy review. In fact, during the making of the policies, nurses should always recommend that a review should be implemented after a particular period. This is necessary in order to maximize the expected outcomes of the policy. Nurses should be able to see the bigger picture (Salvage & White, 2019). This is how they will always find policy gaps and see the need for a review. A good example is in regard to many policies or food programs implemented in schools with the view of reducing childhood obesity. Indeed, many local polices have been implemented to this effect. In a review of such policies, evidence showed that some were effective in improving diet as well as the food environment in schools. However, there was limited evaluation of how the policies impacted BMI (Jaime & Lock, 2019). With the knowledge of such gaps in local and state policies, nurses can suggest evidenced-based interventions to review the policies in order to ensure that they actually have the expected outcomes. When it comes to social determinants of health that affect this issue, income and education level greatly impact food intake and body weight, especially in minority communities. Secondly, conducting community health assessments may allow nurses to identify the need to review specific programs or policies. Such assessments help to identify the needs of the community and help to come up with strategies of how the needs can be met. This is a great opportunity to review existing policies in order to ensure that they actually help health providers in meeting the emerging health needs of a population (Stoto et al., 2019).
One challenge that may present is lack of interest by nurses to be involved in the review. Nurses may be involved in policy making and see as if this is the end. According to Salvage and white (2019), while policy as well as politics determine health and nursing practice, most nurses just want to get on with their jobs. If there is nobody that is interested in the review process, it shall not be done. To overcome this, nurses should be encouraged to have a sustainable approach to policy involvement. This entails not only policy making but also policy review. Another challenge is that nurses may not have adequate knowledge on what policy review entails. Therefore, they should be educated about this and how to participate in the same.
Communicating the Existence of Opportunities and Addressing Challenges
The existence of opportunities needs to be communicated during nursing education. As they are trained about policy-making and policy-review, they should also be informed about existing opportunities. Again, just like in policy making, professional organizations should also be involved as ways of communicating the opportunities. Professional nursing organizations are proactive in advocating for the needs of the clients as well as nurses (Matthews, 2012).
Jaime, P. C., & Lock, K. (2019). Do school based food and nutrition policies improve diet and reduce obesity? Preventive Medicine, 48(1), 45-53.
Matthews, J. (2012). Role of professional organizations in advocating for the nursing profession. Online J Issues Nurs, 17(3).
Pollack Porter, K. M., Rutkow, L., & McGinty, E. E. (2018). The importance of policy change for addressing public health problems. Public Health Reports, 133(1_suppl), 9S-14S.
Salvage, J., & White, J. (2019). Nursing leadership and health policy: everybody’s business. International Nursing Review, 66(2), 147-150
Stoto, M. A., Davis, M. V., & Atkins, A. (2019). Making better use of population health data for community health needs assessments. eGEMs, 7(1).