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Legislator Information Sheet

Nurse patient ratio refers to the ratio of nurses in a hospital unit or ward to the number of patients in the facility. The ratio is set by legislators hence they need to be aware of a few facts. Important information includes the following.

· For every patient added to a nurse’s workload, the mortality rate increases by 7%, especially for patients who undergo common surgeries (Aikan et al., 2010).

· An increase in workload is a precursor of job dissatisfaction and burnouts among nurses (Aikan et al., 2010).

· After legislation and implementation of regulations regarding nurse-patient ratios in California, there was an increase in registered nurses staffing (Aikan et al., 2010).

· An increase in the number of registered nurses in California reduced mortality rates (Aikan et al., 2010).

· The legislation proves to be effective since it achieved its goals: improving nurses’ recruitment and retention, reducing nurses’ workloads and better quality health care (Aikan et al., 2010).

· Both nurses and patients in hospitals that implemented the nurse-patient ratio legislation were comfortable; also, they rated services offered and received respectively as good. There are better outcomes for both parties (Aikan et al., 2010).

· A higher proportion of nurses in hospitals, where the nurse-patient ratio is in compliance legislation, indicates a lower burnout level and higher job satisfaction level (Aikan et al., 2010).

· Nurses in hospitals with a high nurse-patient ratio were less likely to monitor changes in the patients’ conditions due to the high workload. The factor reduces the quality of care offered (Aikan et al., 2010).

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Strategies to Influence Votes on Nurse-Patient Ratio Legislation

As nurses push for their concerns to be addressed in the legislative ring, it is important to determine the strategies to influence the votes for the legislation. The strategies would include: recognizing the key players, comprehending committees, communicating and cooperating with the legislators, entering the legislative ring, and understanding the legislative process involved. The strategies can either apply to the local level or the state level.

The first strategy that can be applied is to know the key players in the legislation process. There are parties that have a great role to play in approving the proposal. At the local level, one may liaise with relevant local committees’ members and chairpersons. As an advocate, it is also important to seek the opinion of voters in the communities, if the proposal in question is limited to patients of a given locality. The support of voters will be of great importance to the implementation of the proposal. Therefore, lobbying from the affected parties will contribute to determining whether the proposal will be accepted for execution or not. At the state level, an advocate would need to liaise with political parties and other organized interest groups in order to ensure the support of the proposal. The power in numbers cannot be understated, especially if the voters play a role in the legislative process (Abood, 2007).

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The second strategy that one can use is to ensure cooperation with the committees involved in the legislative process. The committees are the centers of public education and policymaking at the state level. At the discussion stage on the committee level, the proposed legislation may have an intensive consideration. Moreover, the conflicting ideas are discussed and legislation hammered out. The committee selects the proposals to go through a voting process to be enacted for legislation. Therefore, as an advocate, there is a need to be aware of how the committees work, who are the members, the chairperson, and how they conduct the hearings. The knowledge will allow requesting an opportunity to testify and support the proposal. If the opportunity does not appear on the state level, then there are nurses’ representatives in the respective committees. The advocate can communicate the position to the local communities, and then they can forward the proposal to the committee (Abood, 2007).

The third strategy involves communicating with legislators. It applies to the state and local level. The legislators wade through hundreds or even thousands of bills covering many aspects. As a result, it is impossible for them to understand every bill tabled for legislation comprehensively. Therefore, when soliciting for a proposal to be passed, a nursing advocate should help the legislators evaluate nursing issues. As an advocate, one must have repeated contacts with lawmakers to increase the probability of understanding the issue. The strategy will play a significant role in influencing the decision of the legislators (Abood, 2007).

The fourth strategy is to find a means of entering the legislative arenas to meet the lawmakers. The approach will give an advocate the chance to express the views and prove the point in order to acquire support for the proposal to become law. Finally, as an advocate, there is a need to understand the entire legislative process. It will give an understanding of how to handle their proposal as they bring it forward to the legislators. The strategy can apply at the state level. The advocate should gather as much information as possible on the governmental process in their state. The knowledge will advise where to start and which step to follow according to the designated strategy (Abood, 2007).

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Increasing Power to Influence Votes

As an advocate, there is the need to exert influence to increase the probability of your proposal being enacted for legislation. The influence will act as the power to control the process. Professionally, there are some strategies that the advocate can use to strengthen power. One of the approaches is utilizing the power of numbers. As an advocate, there is a need to join organizations that support the nursing profession. For example, nurses form a large group of health care providers. Therefore, if they would join and form organizations to support the legislation, they would have a competitive advantage due to the enormous numbers. Consequently, an advocate, who wishes to bring forward his proposal, can lobby for support from the organizations so as to have collective bargaining power. The strategy increases the probability of his proposal is passed into law (Abood, 2007).

The second method to increase one’s power to influence votes would be to use expert power. An advocate would have to ensure that he is well equipped with relevant nursing skills. The ability to prove to the legislators that an advocate is knowledgeable in the field of provision of health care services is an excellent tool. It will give the legal body a reason to trust the judgment, thereby voting for the proposal to be implemented (Abood, 2007).

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Another method to increase one’s power to influence votes is by legitimate power. It entails the influence/power bestowed by a particular role or status of an individual. The main option would be to have a license issued by the State Board of Nursing to all registered nurses to practice nursing. The license comes with some rights and responsibilities that would give the holder a great standing in the nursing field. It will allow them to speak on behalf of the group and propose ideas and courses of action in health care and nursing. Thus, an advocate must have at least a practicing license if he/she wants to increase his/her power to influence votes for his proposals in the legislation process (Abood, 2007).

The fourth strategy is to use referent power; people’s admiration and respect. Nursing is a field that commands a lot of admiration, respect, trust, and credibility more than any other field. Consequently, a nursing advocate needs to prove that he/she can be trusted, hence derive some referent power. The approach will open many doors to express concerns to decision-makers (legislators) and power brokers. It will also gain public support. The cooperation will boost the power to influence people’s votes on issues regarding health care services (Abood, 2007).

Another strategy is to use the reward. Reward power implies advocates to use gifts or rewards in exchange for votes. For example, nurses may support the officials that listen to their concerns and advocate for passing into law their proposals. They will not give votes to legislators who are not keen to support their views. Therefore, a nursing advocate can utilize the referent power to determine the personnel in legislator offices (Abood, 2007).

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Conclusion

In a nutshell, a successful nurse advocate must step out of the nursing practice setup into the world of politics and policy-making. Politics is the world where one has to be determined to fight through and find a way out despite the many issues involved. One’s success in the nursing advocacy field will rely heavily on their will, time, power and energy exerted as well as the necessary political skills to wade through the legislative arena. The nursing field will have many positive changes with proper advocacy, and there will be better quality health care, which is a much-needed ingredient in the current world.