It’s easy to overlook that many of the policies we see and hear in the news aren’t entirely decided by the policymakers we see every day. The actual power that initiates innovative ideas into action rests behind the spotlight, with purpose-driven civil servants and professionals.

Despite the many political, logistical, and psychological obstacles these decision-makers encounter, foundations, charities, social sector organizations, and professionals—including nurses— can influence their thinking and impact policy.

Thus, nurses, healthcare professionals and advocates must understand how to communicate with policymakers to contribute successfully to policymaking processes.

Hear first-hand information and insider tips straight from a Health and Aging Policy Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, Alison Hernandez, PhD, RN, here at This Is Getting Old.

Key points covered in this episode:

✔️ There isn’t good policy without good politics and vice versa.

Understand that politics is a competitive, nonviolent process of allocating resources and power. Thus, voting for your elected officials is the most pivotal part because they will eventually exercise the collective voice on the floor. Sponsorship is excellent, but the vote is most important.

✔️ Thirteen to fourteen thousand bills are introduced in Congress every year, and about 1-3% make it to law.

One important deciding factor as to whether the bill goes anywhere in a committee is the person who introduced the bill. It’s worth noting that co-sponsorship is a crucial way to move an issue forward—and it’s the power of numbers.

✔️ State employees are strapped for time.

Committee staff rely on outside forces, experts who are subject matter experts, or advocacy groups working towards issues and change for a very long time

Public officials have a lot on their plates. Aim for brief, straightforward proposals that focus on the central issue you would like to convey if you want people to pay attention to what you have to say.

✔️ Avoid Too Much Fact-Stuffing

A few numbers may be effective, but too many can sometimes be confusing and overlooked. Figures may be placed in context by comparing them to a worldwide average, or they can be made more understandable by linking them to commonplace values that policymakers can understand immediately.

✔️ Spotlight on concrete outcomes and, ideally, address problems.

Politics, philosophy, the times, the press—there are so many things that influence what changes get made and why. For policymakers to make things work, they need to get other people on their side. Make their lives easy. What is the most compelling evidence you can provide to demonstrate that your proposal will have a genuine impact? If possible, share solid examples of where the idea has previously worked and how to improve it. If you can’t, describe the outcomes you’d like to see.

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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at MelissaBPhD.com to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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