Mandating Nurse-Patient Ratios

Jul 4, 2019
folder_opencategory: Medicine
  • California has been the first state to enact several controversial but ultimately successful pieces of legislation. In October 1999, this state became the first to adopt legislation that mandates a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio in licensed acute care hospitals (Bolton, et al., 2007, p. 238).
  • However, prior to the enactment of the legislation, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) acknowledged that there was no scientific evidence on the number of patients that nurses can handle safely and effectively (Bolton, et al., 2007, p. 239).
  • According to the initial phase of legislation, the mandated nurse-patient ratio for medical and surgical units was one nurse for six patients. This reduced to one nurse for every five patients in the final phase of implementation of the legislation. The law also required step-down units to have one nurse for every four patients and one nurse for every five patients in telemetry (Bolton, et al., 2007, p. 239).
  • The passage of the law in California prompted other states to use it as a case study in the implementation of mandatory nurse-patient ratios to pass the legislation in their jurisdiction. The success of the legislation in California prompted other states to follow the suit and implement similar laws (Bolton, et al., 2007, p. 239).
  • In 2005, the California Nursing Outcomes Coalition (CalNOC) published the first report on the impact of the adopted legislation. The findings showed that there were significant changes in the staffing ratios in the state after the implementation of the law (Bolton, et al., 2007, p. 239).
  • In their research, Sochalski et al. compared the data collected before and after the implementation of the legislation and found out that it led to a significant improvement in patient outcomes. It helped in reducing patient mortality associated with various health conditions (Aiken б et al., 2010, p. 906).

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My Strategies to Influence Votes

The healthcare industry has various laws, policies, and regulations that are imposed by the government and other agencies. Nurses are the first healthcare providers who interact with patients and their families. Therefore, they encounter the problems and issues facing the healthcare industry daily. This makes them acknowledge the importance of comprehensive changes in the field. Therefore, nurses become the advocates of policy changes in the healthcare system to solve the problems in the system. However, this would necessitate them to move out of their normal profession to ensure the efficient implementation of the changes. It is significant to note that throughout history, nurses have played a critical role in shaping healthcare. Therefore, it is vital for me to play my part regardless of how small it would be. I can try to influence votes supporting the passing of the legislation that mandates nurse-patient ratio at both the local and state level (Mason, Leavitt, & Chaffee, 2013, p. 34).

I would strive to communicate with the local legislator to provide information on the goods and ills of passing legislation on the mandated nurse-patient ratio. I would write emails and letters to the local legislators, which would detail the pros and cons of the same. This would help in encouraging voting at the local level. If the local legislators do not respond to the letters, I would call them to enquire their views on the issue. If the legislator does not respond to my calls, I will collaborate with other nurses to seek an audience. Talking face-to-face with the legislators would be more effective as it would enable me to articulate my points more effectively. I would also cooperate with the local media to convince the legislators to support the passing of the legislation that supports the mandated nurse-patient ratio (Finkelman & Kenner, 2014, p. 163).

I would also take measures to ensure the passing of the legislation at the state level. To do so, I would join professional nursing organizations within my state. They would provide me with more resources to reach my goal. In addition, they can strategize better. The professional nursing organizations would promote candidates that support the passing of the legislation on mandated nurse-patient ratio. They would achieve this goal through political actions committees (PACs). The latter would run advertisements in local and state media to highlight the importance of passing the legislation on the healthcare of residents of the state. This would encourage the electorate to support candidates that are for the passing of legislation on mandated nurse-patient ratio. The pressure from the electorate would force the legislators to approve the legislation so that they may be reelected (Abood, 2007, p. 3).

Increasing My Power to Influence Votes

There are approximately 3 million nurses in the U.S. who work in all voting districts. Therefore, nurses wield so much power. Their numbers warrant them to influence policies affecting their profession if only they could collaborate. I would strive to increase my power to influence votes by joining professional nursing organizations. They have an audience including various parties that play a critical role in the formulation and passing the legislation. Preferably, I would like to seek an executive position in a professional nursing organization. This would enable me to influence the process even further (Abood, 2007, p. 3).

Networking would also improve my power to influence votes. I would strive to build relationships with legislators, lobbyists, committee members of the legislator, and other parties that are vital in the formulation and passing various bills. Creating a powerful connection with lobbyists would enable me to influence them and ultimately attain my goals. Besides, I would strive to build powerful connections with legislators as well. I would always keep them updated through emails and letters on the issues that the healthcare industry is facing. This would make them view me as an expert in the field. Therefore, they would seek my help if they need any clarification on the issues concerning healthcare (Mason, et al., 2015, p. 43).

I would also strive to improve my credentials. This would help me understand issues that the healthcare industry faces better. It would assist me to find the way to tackle the issues from different perspectives. In addition, it would ensure that I provide the legislators and other relevant parties with the right information. I would also strive to improve my communication skills. Improvement of communication skills would be critical to duties in nursing advocacy since I would have to communicate with different people. It would enable me to detect the verbal and non-verbal cues more effectively.

Ultimately, if all the strategies to influence votes turn to be not successful, I would run for a public office as a local legislator. I would ensure that I obtain the support of professional nursing organizations when running for the office since I will address their plight more effectively. The professional nursing organizations would provide me with resources thus helping to run a successful political campaign. However, competing for public office would be the last resort. This is due to the fact that it would necessitate me to move out of my comfort zone and seek a career in politics. A career change may have a significant impact on my personal life.

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