Rheumatology Nurses Society Annual Conference
Rheumatology Nurses Society Annual Conference
Source/Disclosures
Source:

Kopanos T. Advocating For Your Right to Practice to Your Full Scope. Presented at: Rheumatology Nurses Society annual conference; August 5-8, 2020 (virtual meeting).


Disclosures: Kopanos reports no relevant financial disclosures.

August 12, 2020
2 min read
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Rheumatology nurses called to advocate for profession, 'solve health care challenges'

Source/Disclosures
Source:

Kopanos T. Advocating For Your Right to Practice to Your Full Scope. Presented at: Rheumatology Nurses Society annual conference; August 5-8, 2020 (virtual meeting).


Disclosures: Kopanos reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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Learning to speak the language of policymakers is critical to advocating for health care legislation that will allow nurses to practice to their full potential, according to a presenter at the 2020 Rheumatology Nurses Society Annual Conference.

“You have the ability to change health care policy,” Tay Kopanos, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, vice president of State Government Affairs for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, said in her presentation. “You have the ability to shape the way health care is delivered and how we practice our profession.”

Photo of a nursing student with a cell phone
“You already advocate for your patients every day,” Tay Kopanos, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, told attendees. “Policy advocacy utilizes those same skills, and that same message, just to a different audience.” Source: Adobe Stock

Kopanos challenged attendees to envision what the next decade of nursing licensure looks like, and then to act on that vision. “It is evident that outdated laws needlessly restrict health care access, impede patients’ care delivery and sideline nurses,” she said. “It is now up to us as nurses to make these changes and propose solutions.”

COVID-19 revealed gaps in the way state and national policy hinders nurses from practicing the profession to their full potential. However, if there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that policymakers are listening to nurses more than ever, according to Kopanos. “In fact, they are looking to us to solve health care challenges that they are seeing in their communities and in their states,” she said.

Kopanos suggested that the nursing skill of “motivational interviewing” can be applied to conversations with these policymakers. Understanding that legislators and other governmental decision-makers are driven by three key factors — cost, quality and access — can help nurses motivate them to enact policies that will benefit nurses and, consequently, patients.

To the point of cost, while federal, state and local budgets are tighter than ever in the setting of the pandemic, Kopanos urged attendees to avoid words like “cheap” or “cheaper” when offering solutions for health care needs. This suggests a lower quality of care. “That is not what nurses are offering,” she said.

Rather, phrases like “cost-effective” and “effective utilization of resources” are much more likely to gain traction among policymakers.

Another phrase Kopanos suggested was “expand scope of practice.” Helping policymakers understand that nurses are ready and willing to maximize their role in health care delivery will make those policymakers believe that they are getting value from those who practice the profession. “Framing our solutions in ways that the policymaker already is thinking helps our ideas take root and our solutions resonate with their policy agenda,” she said.

But those ideas will not take root unless nurses take a proactive role in communicating with their state and local governments. RNS members were encouraged to attend municipal and state budget meetings, to introduce themselves to legislators in charge of health care policy and then to follow up those interactions with a phone call or an email.

“You already advocate for your patients every day,” she said, noting that nurses spend a significant portion of each day on the phone with insurance companies, pharmacies and other providers on behalf of their patients. “Policy advocacy utilizes those same skills, and that same message, just to a different audience. You are carrying those stories, those messages and solutions to policymakers who have the ability to make change not just one or two patients at a time, but for hundreds of thousands within your state.”