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Learn the Value of Health Policy Through an RN to BSN Degree

State legislatures make thousands of health policy decisions each year. Who advises them on what is best for patients, providers and the healthcare industry?

The significance of nurses in shaping these policies cannot be overstated. With their firsthand experience in patient care and the healthcare system, nurses play a pivotal role in influencing health policy decisions that affect public health and the nursing profession.

To maximize policy influence, registered nurses (RNs) can increase their health policy knowledge with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. This is an academic degree in the science and principles of nursing awarded by universities and colleges. Compared to the diploma and associate degree in nursing, a BSN curriculum offers a more extensive education in nursing theory, research and leadership and a broader liberal arts education.

An RN to BSN program, like that online at St. Cloud State University, specifically caters to RNs who aim to advance their education and career prospects — including a career that involves health policy.

What Is Health Policy?

Per the Healthy People 2030, health policy encompasses the plans and actions undertaken to achieve specific healthcare goals within a society. These policies can pertain to a broad range of issues, including public health, the provisioning of health services and healthcare financing. Health policies are crucial for setting priorities and allocating resources effectively within the health sector.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) further emphasizes the role of health policy in ensuring patient wellness and public health — advocating for policies that support nursing practice, health care quality improvement and patient access to care. Through such policies, nurses are recognized as caregivers and key players in healthcare decision-making processes. The following represent just a few key areas of focus:

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)
  • Appropriate staffing
  • Healthy work environments
  • Clinical advocacy to ensure high-quality, evidenced-based care
  • Scope of nursing practice

What Is the Importance of Health Policy in Nursing?

Understanding health policy is vital for nurses because policies directly influence nursing practice, healthcare delivery and patient outcomes. By engaging with health policy, nurses can advocate for changes that improve patient care, ensure workplace safety and elevate the nursing profession.

A position statement on academic nursing from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) highlights the specific importance of healthcare policy in nursing scholarship. It stresses that policy knowledge is critical for supporting healthcare innovation and improvement in the public domain. Nurses can use their policy knowledge to help develop evidence-based policies that enhance patient care and health outcomes.

How Nurses Can Influence Policy

Nurses can influence health policy in various ways, as outlined by HealthStream. These include participating in professional organizations, engaging in health policy advocacy, providing testimony on health issues and contributing to policy development through research and scholarship. Nurses can be involved in policy advocacy at the local, state and national levels and champion policies that support nursing education, research and practice.

Health policy knowledge also opens several career opportunities for nurses, including roles in healthcare administration, public health, policy analysis and advocacy. Graduates of St. Cloud State University’s program can pursue roles as hospital nurse, public health nurse, family practice/pediatric nurse, health educator and more.

St. Cloud State University’s RN to BSN Program: A Pathway to Health Policy Knowledge

The value of health policy knowledge for nurses is undeniable. In St. Cloud State University’s online RN to BSN program, students “examine health care policy, including financial and regulatory environments, to influence the delivery of superior, patient-centered care.” By learning the role of nurses in healthcare policy development and advocacy, students prepare to engage in policy discussions and advocacy efforts.

Through courses focused on nursing leadership and population health, students gain the skills necessary to influence policy decisions and ensure that the policies enacted reflect the needs and values of patients, the nursing profession and the healthcare system.

Learn more about St. Cloud State University’s online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

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