As a staunch advocate for the adoption of the enhanced nurse-patient ratios in legislation, there are some strategies that an individual may use to advance his/her agenda. One of the approaches that I would use is writing letters (Abood, 2007). Most people would dismiss this strategy as an ineffective one since politicians and most policy makers do not have a lot of time at their disposal to read the details contained in letters. Using this strategy should not be limited to addressing only specific politicians or officials in public agencies; it can include writing to editors of popular magazines, newspapers, and even blogs. Politicians and policy makers take these sources of media seriously and often look at them to know what the electorate desire. Additionally, some of such addressees take letters seriously, and one might be surprised to find out that his/her letter triggered this debate in legislatures. This strategy would be appropriate if used at the local level.
Another method that can be easily rejected is making calls. Calling a policy setter or politician may be helpful in one’s quest for influencing votes for a policy. In fact, it is an appropriate strategy for finding out whether a person is interested in advocating for the issue since there is direct feedback received. Making a call can also be effective because one gets a chance of convincing the other person of the matter that he/she is trying to push through. Calling may also be appropriate when used at the local level as opposed to the state level.
Another strategy that a person can use to advocate or push for certain policies is getting elected to public office. One simply needs to muster the courage to ask the public to elect him/her on his/her desired post. Nurse would, for instance, can offer themselves for election on positions relating to the health department. Once elected it would be easier to push for the implementation of certain legislations compared to when one is an ordinary citizen. Politicians have a direct influence on decision making since when such bills or proposals come to the floor of the house they usually have a vote. An elected official is also better placed to advocate for certain policies, since his/her fellow officials are colleagues and he or she would be in better position to convince them as opposed to ordinary public members (Cohen, Leavitt, Leonhardt, & Mason, 1998). This is arguably the best strategy for influencing votes for but also the most difficult one since to campaign and go through the elections is not an easy task. This approach can be appropriate at both the state and local levels.
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Testifying about a problem on public meetings can also be an appropriate strategy for advocating for one's policies. In public events, especially health-related meetings such as a public lecture where a health issue is under discussion, one can testify about his/her concern. Political leaders and other policy makers who influence major decisions often attend these events, and a perfect forum is created for presenting the issue. For instance, America is currently in an electioneering period and most politicians who intend to get elected for various posts frequently organize meetings. Nurses who are privy to the challenges facing such professionals should raise the issue when an opportunity arises to question the politician. At such meetings, one should be in a position to create awareness and describe the merits of the solution he/she is advocating. This strategy is also appropriate at both the state and local levels. However, it is more suitable locally because forums of addressing the whole state are easy to come.
Lastly, one should also make an attempt to lobby decision makers. One can do it directly via personal communication or indirectly via the media (Abood, 2007). Lobbying involves campaigning for or against certain policies. A nurse may organize a meeting with a policy maker, probably by visiting his or her office and explaining to him/her what the challenge is, and offer possible solutions. Face to face lobbying is important because it shows the individual concerned how serious the matter is and the attention it deserves. The nurse can also lobby via the media. It is an important information tool and using it to lobby for votes can prove to be effective. One should use the media to bring public attention to the problem so that it can gain the public’s support. Once people support it, policymakers will have no choice but to pick it up and deliberate over it as well. This strategy is appropriate at both the local and state level.
Increasing My Power to Influence Votes
Influencing votes is not an easy task especially using the methods discussed above. There are obvious limitations because one is unsure of whether the intended recipient gets the information. One can also never be confident whether they think if it is a real issue that deserves their attention and time. The best thing for an individual to do is to try to increase his/her capacity to be in a better position to influence votes.
One of the ways in which one can strengthen his/her power to influence votes is by increasing his/her credentials. They are important in the promotion of policies because they give an individual the authority to speak on a certain issue. For instance, a registered nurse (RN) who has a Ph.D. in nursing will speak more authoritatively on any professional issue compared to an RN, who only has an undergraduate degree because the former is considered to be more knowledgeable on the particular subject. Hence, more people can listen to him or her. If the person is more qualified, even policy makers are more likely give him/her more attention when talking about an area of his/her specialty. Therefore, having more credentials gives an individual the power to indirectly have an influence on votes.
It is agreeable that two heads are better than one, and the saying applies to the agitation for certain things. In this process, a group is more likely to be given attention as opposed to a single person. Therefore, in a bid to push for the passage of the nurse-patient ratios, joining a professional association such as the American Nurses Association may be helpful. If one is a member of such the organization, and the group adopts his/her proposal, it may be in a better position to push for the implementation of the policy. Politicians and policy makers are often keen on statements made by professionals regarding policies made by the government. Additionally, colleagues in professional associations can give a person further insights regarding the matter and thereby making each other more informed as they pursue the matter. Therefore, joining organizations can give an individual more power to advocate for more votes (Hofler, 2006).
Another strategy that can be used to increase an individual’s power entails cooperating with powerful individuals. They include leaders of social institutions such as business and church leaders. Such people have the capacity to shape opinion and influence certain decisions made by policy makers. For instance, when a priest or a sheik makes a statement, it reaches a great number of people including policy makers. They also have some sense of authority and are hence better placed to influence public opinion on certain matters. Consequently, if one gets close to the individuals who wield some power and shares his/her thoughts with them, his/her ideas are likely to reach wider masses and hence to influence the votes regarding certain issues.
Lastly, the interested individual can offer himself/herself for elections as official in public bodies or professional organizations so that he/she can increase his/her direct capacity to present issues on behalf of nurses. Elected officials have the benefit of being in positions where they can directly influence the outcomes of certain policies (Cohen et al., 1998). Seeking a leadership position can also be an appropriate strategy for increasing one’s power to influence votes.