When considering political advocacy, the room for nurses to exert a stronger voice can appear immeasurable. One of the challenges for the nurse leader who is attempting to exert influence outside of the immediate care area is determining where opportunity and passion intersect. Certainly, there is an option of travelling to state or national capitals to speak on behalf of those who need the strong support of nurses; but limiting nursing influence to this level of influence limits the presence of the nursing voice at the level of more strategic discussions.
My personal drive regarding nursing advocacy is fueled by the idea that nurses need to be present as decision makers, not just within the context of the healthcare environment; but in the businesses, industries, and governing bodies that drive healthcare decisions at a larger level. It is not that I do not appreciate the steps it has taken for nurses to be claim roles in healthcare leadership; but boards of directors, those bodies that approve strategic operations that support healthcare, are still without adequate representation from nursing bodies (Dorritie, 2020). The desire for this balance is not a simple gesture of equality. The ability of a governing body to effectively respond to the needs of its charge is directly related to the willingness of that body to include representation from multiple stakeholders (Prybil et al., 2019). This is why hospitals are being encouraged to include patients on their boards of directors. Their decisions will be stronger if everyone gets a voice.
For a few years, I have been registered with the Nurses On Boards Coalition (NOBC). The organization, which facilitates the process of matching nurses with boards and panels, was formed after the Institute of Medicine placed a call to action for nurses to rise to higher levels of leadership in 2010 (Nurses on Boards Coalition, 2020). I am contacted when there are potential opportunities to serve, and the board has forwarded my applications on multiple occasions. Though I have not received a formal placement, I have been contacted for professional opinion on regarding several topics. Most recently, I applied to serve on a board that would advise both commercial and political lawmakers who were addressing pain management and long term opiate addiction. The commitment would have been a monthly meeting and approximately two weeks to present materials to governing bodies. The application process alone is an educational experience and wonderful opportunity to reflect on my personal practice and how my leadership philosophies have evolved. My hope is that this advanced degree will improve my profile enough that I will be able to serve on one of these boards.