What is a Health Policy Nurse?

An interest in public health nursing and healthcare law may lead you to consider becoming a health policy nurse. Nurses who are especially concerned about the health of communities may find this to be a good role. Health policy nursing focuses on the making and carrying out of health policies that affect groups of people. Such nurses work in a variety of roles to ensure that the policies that are put into place serve to strengthen and uphold people’s health. It’s a role that combines nursing skills with research and other reflective skills that can help to understand and evaluate community needs.

Complexity of Healthcare

The complexity of American healthcare is one of the reasons that skilled and compassionate health policy nurses are needed. Policies that work well can help people in need, including people in ethnic or economic groups in special need, access and use the healthcare system well. Socio-economics, race, gender, genetics, and age are all factors that can sometimes affect the ways that people can lack access to good healthcare or find such access more challenging. Well-researched and written healthcare laws and policies can be a big part of helping such people not only access healthcare, but use it in ways that promote wellness within the community. Nurses who are trained to research and evaluate existing healthcare policy can provide advocacy and counsel in ways that can bring change to policies and make them more life-giving.

Education Involved in Becoming a Health Policy Nurse

Becoming this kind of nurse usually involves having a fair amount of experience and education. Registered nurses (RNs) in this field generally have a graduate degree, so if you are an RN who doesn’t yet have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, you will need to complete that first so you can go on for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Having a good deal of work experience can also help you prepare for this kind of work, since the more practical experience you have, the more likely you are to have solid ideas about what will help patients and what would make good healthcare policy.

Some health policy nurses actually go on for a doctorate after their master’s degree, though it’s not a requirement, according to Discover Nursing. However, if you stay in the field and become more deeply involved in healthcare legislation or advocacy, you might find such an advanced degree helpful. Nurses who go on for a doctorate sometimes get a PhD, which is more research focused than the DNP degree. Studies in public health, healthcare law, ethics, and economics will all likely be a part of your graduate level work as you prepare for this kind of job.

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As you can see, this role is an important one that takes a good deal of time and education to prepare for. It may also lead you to management or administrative type positions. If you find yourself often wishing that you could influence healthcare policy in a positive direction for your patients, then learning more about the role of the health policy nurse can be a good idea.