How Nurse Practitioners Can Become Community Advocates
Nurse practitioners (NPs) can have a profound and positive impact on communities through patient advocacy and exceptional service delivery. As front-line witnesses to countless patient experiences, nurse practitioners can improve public well-being through legislative activism. To accomplish this, nurses must gain skill in an unfamiliar forum — the political arena.
NPs know firsthand the many issues that affect patient outcomes. These same experiences influence many nurse practitioners to make a plea for change before political figures. Initial forays into politics may feel irregular to full-time care providers. However, nurse practitioners can prepare for patient advocacy by observing the following strategies.
Participation in Community Assessments
Government officials review community assessments to establish public health policies.  This data guides officials as to where, when and how resources are to be allocated. Local government leaders rely on health care professionals to provide relevant community health information. By participating in community assessments, nurse practitioners can help ensure that officials gather relevant and accurate information. This information may include factors such as:
-Population age distributions
-Community health conditions
-Ethnic group populations
-Health care service performance levels
Government officials gather and use this information cyclically to maintain continual community well-being.
Civic Interest Group Formation
Nurse practitioners play a vital role in community mentorship and networking.  By establishing joint commissions and special interest groups, NPs can facilitate ongoing community partnerships to manage current health issues. These activities allow NPs to establish community initiatives that continually foster caregiver talent within a given locale.
As community leaders, nurse practitioners can play critical roles in establishing initiatives that promote local public health, and assist in shaping an environment that responds to citizens’ needs. This supportive guidance helps provide citizens with outlets to manage ever-evolving local health matters.
Advocacy for Cost-effective Treatments and Medications
Care providers and patients currently face many changes that have heightened concerns over medical expenses.  Many stakeholders invested in the health care field affect change through legislation. The difficulty of this process is apparent, because outcomes can increasingly affect any given party over another equally involved party.
Legislators must review evidence and make decisions that best serve the public’s interest. Therefore, it is critical that nurse practitioners learn to voice the needs of community patrons’ through the legislative process.
Maintaining Rapport With Academic Influencers
By continually educating administrators, students and parents about community wellness issues, nurse practitioners can establish rapport that allows them to advocate for student health.
This ongoing relationship enables NPs to monitor and advocate for concerns such as ensuring sufficient nurse staffing levels in schools. Many U.S. school nurses oversee a woefully disproportionate number of students, with some districts requiring care providers to supervise multiple school facilities. By maintaining an ongoing rapport with individuals who influence academic decision-making, NPs can advocate for patients’ needs (i.e., student’s needs) as required. Additionally, nurse practitioners can present these concerns to legislative officials in a meaningful context by providing empirical data generated from local health information.
Involvement With Established Local Organizations
Great competition exists among organizations rallying for general funding.  Nurse practitioners can stay abreast of current community issues to understand and advocate for programs that best serve the medical needs of the local population. This competitive funding climate can encourage NPs to maximize their role as a community health care professional.
Nurse practitioners can build relationships that allow them to identify key public health resources, services and issues. Therefore, a well-versed understanding of all local civic interests helps NPs advocate effectively for initiatives that will improve community health outcomes.
Active Involvement in Health Care Legislation
Establishing a rapport with legislative professionals represents another strategy that nurse practitioners can employ to boost their community advocacy. A professional relationship with influential local officials provides a conduit for presenting important public welfare issues.
Through political affiliations, NPs can advance public wellness agendas by presenting governmental decision-makers with relevant and timely information. When serving in this capacity, nurse practitioners provide officials with logical, concise, factual and verified reports. During these presentations, NPs approach the meeting cordially, with the intention of producing a win-win outcome or finding a feasible middle ground. Nurse practitioners can exercise this approach throughout the many facets of the legislative process.
Ongoing Public Education
NPs can maintain community relations by providing ongoing wellness education.  This exposure helps build the reputation of practitioners as health care experts; promoting an ongoing, two-way dialogue that includes local residents and <ahref=”http://onlinenursing.regiscollege.edu/resources/msn/articles/what-does-an-adult-geriatric-nurse-practitioner-do/”community health concerns. This reciprocal relationship heightens the community’s involvement in its health care future and brings together practitioners and patients. Additionally, patients who are familiar with NPs as public health educators are more likely to openly express issues during their regular office visits. Working collaboratively with NP’s also makes patients more likely to support initiatives that are presented by their local community wellness advocate.
During service delivery, nurse practitioners receive firsthand exposure to society’s most pressing health issues. This experience, combined with training, allows NPs to serve as highly informed community health advocates. In a setting ripe with legislative maneuvering, community leadership and political health activism are skills that can greatly heighten the impact of contemporary nurse practitioners.
The growing senior population in the U.S. is adding to the demand for health care as a whole, but no profession is better equipped to meet the unique needs of elderly patients than adult geriatric nurse practitioners. With Regis’ online Master of Science in Nursing Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner , you can join this in-demand specialization and help elderly patients maintain healthy and comfortable lives.
 Public Health Madison & Dane County
The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
 Nurse Practitioners and Political Engagement
The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing – Patient Advocacy