Exploration of the Impact Undergraduate Health Policy Education Had on Nurses' Political Astuteness and Involvement

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 3:50 PM

Carol Ann Amann, PhD
Villa Maria School of Nursing, Gannon University, Erie, PA, USA

A common barrier to political or health policy involvement is related to the lack knowledge and preparation of nurses to become involved in health policy and politics. Political competence and mentoring is considered a necessary component of nursing education if nurses are expected to be active within the political arena (Ferguson & Drenkard, 2003). To effectively promote health policy, professional nurses need introductory knowledge of the political environment. When offered in undergraduate nursing programs, the education is constrained in scope and practice to a small number of baccalaureate nursing students during their formal education. Practicing nurses who desire to further their knowledge and expertise through mentoring programs in health policy are hampered by insufficient numbers of nursing professionals and mentors within this specialty (Spenceley, Reutter, & Allen, 2006).

Current research has been limited to non existent on this subject matter. To further explore these findings a phenomenological research study was completed to determine the impact an undergraduate baccalaureate level nursing course in health policy and political involvement had on registered nurses political astuteness and involvement. The study was conducted using a purposive sample of registered nurses who were prior nursing students enrolled in a health policy course. Of the 24 students enrolled, 21 students participated in the research. An open-ended question format using nine semi- structured questions was formulated to guide the interview session for the purpose of this research. Five overarching themes emerged: (1) Education as a Foundation to Political Advocacy, (2) Health Policy Involvement, (3) Characteristics of a Politically Involved Nurse, (4) Perceived Barriers to Political Involvement, and (5) Academia Leading the Way. Results indicated that health policy education was a valued component of the registered nurses undergraduate education. Participants utilized their health policy/political foundation to pursue health policy roles within their health care organizations and on a local, state or federal level to positively impact health policy. Obstacles to health policy/political involvement were identified as organizational barriers, fear of retribution, shortage of mentors, and lack of time were the primary deterrents to nurses involvement in health policy/political activity.


Ferguson, S. L., & Drenkard, K. L. (2003). Developing leaders in health policy: an education and practice partnership. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice. 4, 180-184.

Spenceley, S., Reutter, L., & Allen, M. (2006). The road less traveled: nursing advocacy at the policy level. Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice. 7(3), 180-194.