The Nurse as Advocate
Advocacy is a significant part of nursing practice. Such medical specialists often illustrate significant values, professional ethics, and advocacy skills through which they can make unique and valuable contributions to the development and implementation of healthcare policies (Walker et al., 2015). Bethany Hall-Long’s essay “My Journey to the Delaware General Assembly” and the work “Taking Action: A Nurse in the Boardroom” by Marilyn Waugh Bouldin shed light on the need to embrace a more direct advocacy role the nurses through political involvement to influence policy. Hall-Long and Bouldin share their personal experiences and emphasize the need for more medical practitioners to take up leadership roles in active politics at the workplaces, government, professional organizations, and the community (Mason, Gardner, Outlaw, Freida, & O’Grady, 2016). Overall, Hall-Long and Bouldin reveal the driving forces and challenges that they encounter as advocates, thereby reinforcing the idea that nurses have the mandate to do everything for their communities by increasing the quality of care and facilitating access to necessary resources.
Driving Forces that Led Them to Become Advocates
To begin with, there are various driving forces that influenced Hall-Long and Bouldin to become advocates. Hall-Long just wanted to serve others. Everything began during her childhood, when she was twelve years old, and started to nurture her advocacy skills as a volunteer in a local hospital and other neighborhood organizations (Mason et al., 2016). Hall-Long interacted with people at a community level to see the challenges that they encountered, such as homelessness and lack of other basic amenities. The passion for serving others motivated her to pursue community health and become a nurse to get an opportunity to tackle the challenges experienced by the community while accessing health services. It is that commitment to serve others that keeps Hall-Long motivated to ensure quality healthcare for all individuals.
Another driver for Hall-Long was her knowledge and competency. For instance, Hall-Long’s desire to help people arose from her impressive educational background as a Registered Nurse, holder of a Master’s degree in Community Health Nursing, as well as a doctoral degree in Nursing Administration and Public Policy (Mason et al., 2016). Besides, Hall-Long also demonstrates remarkable experience as part of various inter-professional teams that heightened her skills in policy development and implementation. For example, her experience came from her positions as a faculty member at the university where she taught public health and health policy, the United States Senate Fellow, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy analyst (Mason et al., 2016). Hall-Long’s education and experience continue to influence her advocacy. All these elements have complemented Hall-Long’s personal traits (confidence and resilience) and outstanding communication skills, which positively affected her advocacy.
Likewise, there are various facilitators that led Bouldin to become an advocate. For example, the major one was the support and goodwill she received from fellow professionals and members of the public. Bouldin emphasizes that without support from others, advocating would not be possible. She maintains that throughout her public health nursing career, she developed positive and diverse relationships that were very significant in her advocacy journey (Mason et al., 2016). It is impressive that despite living in her community for roughly five years, Bouldin had managed to develop varied and extensive connections with others due to her outstanding engagement in community health advocacy. Consequently, Bouldin continued to enjoy massive support and goodwill from different parts of the society enabling her to prosper in her advocacy role.
Another driving force for Bouldin was her determination as well as her willingness to learn. Bouldin suggests that advocacy is a learning process. She admits that she has been open-minded to learn as much as she can from her mentors, the local people, as well as other health professionals to widen her knowledge of the larger health issues. Bouldin shares that learning from others has heightened her knowledge of assessing the community’s health needs and developing new programs (Mason et al., 2016). The woman admits that she views her position of a board member as a learning opportunity to widen her knowledge on various health policy matters. She believes that only through a willingness to learn, she can address the health issues of her community as well as understand and set priorities. Bouldin’s determination to learn goes hand-in-hand with her notable communication skills as well as her risk-taking and compassionate nature that seem to motivate her to represent her community to the best of her ability.
Challenges That Each of Them Identified in Their Writings
Despite their continued success as advocates, Hall-Long’s and Bouldin’s advocacy journeys have not been smooth since they have encountered various challenges along the way. For example, Hall-Long cites that long working hours, tight schedules, and heavy workloads led to work-life balance struggles. It was the main challenge to her advocacy work. Moreover, she maintains that she faces work overloads owing to the requests made from home, family, and career. She spends at least 8-12 hours each day juggling between caring for her family, doing legislative work, attending civic association meetings, engaging in community work, and dedicating time to her nursing students (Mason et al., 2016). However, despite the fact that all these activities take a lot of time and energy, Hall-Long does not seem to mind, and she appreciates every minute she gets to advocate since it is what motivates her.
In the same breath, Bouldin reveals that two main challenges that she encountered in her advocacy journey were the lack of adequate political exposure as well as financial constraints. Bouldin shares that her political knowledge was very demanding, and she lacked the experience of running a campaign or giving political speeches (Mason et al., 2016). While seeking to become a member of the hospital board, Bouldin realized that despite serving in several not-for-profit organizations and learning how to be an effective board member, her exposure to advocacy at a political level was not so good. However, due to her determination to give the best to her community, Bouldin demonstrates that in the end, with the support of her mentors, she was able to learn as much a she could. Furthermore, the woman cites inadequate financial resources as another challenge that she faced. She admits that she never knew that running for a political office would be that expensive, but she is also very thankful that her friends came through for her by giving donations (Mason et al., 2016). Overall, one cannot help but admire the resilience demonstrated by Hall-Long and Bouldin since they were able to overcome the various challenges without losing focus on their advocating obligations.
Analyzing the Drivers and Challenges and Comparing Them with Personal Experience as an Advocate
Just like Hall-Long and Bouldin, I hope that within the next five years, I will have made significant progress in my advocacy journey. I have engaged in some advocacy activities, including the support for social assistance and affordable housing for the homeless as well as environmental conservation and volunteering during the board meetings at a local organization. I can relate with the various drivers that influenced Hall-Long and Bouldin. For instance, my commitment to serving others is the major driving force that motivates me to implement positive changes in the lives of vulnerable populations. I also hope to acquire the highest level of education to increase my knowledge level, and I also hope to engage in various inter-professional teams so that I can increase my expertise. Additionally, I want to acquire support and goodwill through positive relationships, teamwork, and collaborations with other healthcare professionals, elected representatives, and the entire community. Luckily, I possess the determination to learn, and I hope to embrace a lifetime of learning to grow my advocating skills.
Furthermore, I can relate to some of the challenges experienced by the authors. For example, sometimes, I feel that time is a barrier to my advocacy role owing to a busy schedule that requires me to juggle school, work, and family responsibilities. However, through commitment and effective planning, I can overcome the barrier of time. One unique challenge that I encounter is the need to improve my public speaking skills since it remains one of my problematic areas. Bouldin advises that nurse advocates should strive to improve their communication skills, and I hope to do the same in the future. Generally, within the next five years, I want to expand my advocacy skills by becoming acquainted with various policy-making procedures through membership in nursing associations, continuing my education programs, including healthcare policy courses, to expand my knowledge, becoming involved in practice councils or boards at the workplace, and even running for the elected office. Through dedication and resilience, I see myself achieving great things for my community.
To conclude, Hall-Long’s and Bouldin’s personal experiences emphasize the obligation of nurses to advocate for the patients and communities that they serve to ensure improvement in the healthcare system. The women hold elective positions through which they support their patients by means of involvement in the development and implementation of healthcare policies. Both authors reveal various drivers that influence their advocacy, including commitment to serve others, knowledge and competency, support and goodwill, as well as the willingness to learn. However, Hall-Long and Bouldin cite various challenges that they encountered during their practices, including long working hours, the lack of political exposure, and financial constraints. Overall, the authors’ involvement in active politics is a revelation that nurses are continually thinking of policy as something they can influence and not just something that happens to them. It heightens their abilities to address the continuous health-related needs of society.