The Voice for Nursing Education: THESE WORDS, FAMILIAR TO ALL MEMBERS, ARE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE NLN MISSION. With one of our primary goals to serve as "the voice of nurse educators and champion their interests in political, academic, and professional arenas," we work actively to shape and inform public policy affecting nursing education and nursing workforce development. As an organization, the NLN achieves this goal through a number of key strategies: setting a public policy agenda; advocating with policy makers; collecting, analyzing, and disseminating workforce data; and providing tools to assist nurse educators in their own political advocacy efforts.
Organizational influence in the political, academic, and professional arenas is critical to advancing public policies that benefit nursing and nursing education. However, organizational influence is not enough. We all have our own spheres of influence, as well as opportunities to champion the interests of nurses, nursing education, and, most importantly, patients.
Two important questions for nurse educators are these: How do we best prepare ourselves as individuals to serve as a voice for nursing education? And how do we best prepare our students to develop advocacy skills so that nursing's voice can be effectively heard to influence health care reform? I think these questions are worthy of discussion in all our nursing programs.
As I reflect on my own educational preparation, I find it difficult to recall any substantive learning experiences designed to nurture the development of advocacy skills in the public policy arena. I had an excellent nursing education, and nursing's role in advocating for individual patients was a concept emphasized throughout my learning. Because of this background, I have always been comfortable assuming that role in my own nursing practice, and I have found it easy to convey the importance of this level of patient advocacy to my students. But the nurse's role in advocating at the public policy level, and developing the political skills necessary to successfully influence public policy, received a more cursory treatment. It has taken me some time to feel competent in this area.
My experience is, I believe, a common one. Many nurse educators welcome opportunities to continue their own professional development in public policy advocacy. To help you further develop your advocacy competencies and design learning experiences for students, the NLN provides a number of resources. Let me briefly expand upon the four strategies that the NLN uses to shape public policy.
One strategy is the establishment of a public policy agenda that can be used to support advocacy efforts. …