It is important for consumers; this means every eligible citizen, to be involved in the process of policy making. According to Kraft and Furlong (2015), this ensures that the general public’s interests are taken into account during the policy process. The thing is that the public may not realize that they have a voice that needs to and will be heard. Kraft and Furlong (2015) describe it as citizens not completely understanding how policy decisions can and do affect their everyday lives and the fact that they could made a difference. Sometimes if there is enough support or opposition on an issue this can affect the decision that is made by policy makers but it is up to the public to make their point of view seen and understood. Fortunately there are a number of ways to help increase consumer participation in the policy process.
As this topic pertains to NPs as the consumers, according to Dr Denise Link (personal communication, April 13, 2015), it is imperative that people know about the opportunities to serve and actually participate in the endeavors. This means showing up and being a part of the conversation. Educating ourselves (consumers) about the issues and having educated and informed discussions about them (the issues) makes us better able to communicate the effects that the policy to be made would have on us.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) is helping to exemplify a strategy to increase consumer participation in the policy process by creating a forum for all registered nurses (RN) and advance practice nurses (APN) who feel that the 40 hour per week definition of full-time employment would impact them negatively to share their stories (www.rnaction.org, 2014). A link has been sent by email to RNs and APNs all over the country to make their comments. This is definitely a way for this sub population of the public to possibly make an impact on a policy that would affect their everyday lives through employment and livelihood.
Access to general information has become quite easy. The media is constantly reporting on issues even policy issues. Internet access is common place. Even people with no internet or computer at home can go to a library or their place of work, if they are allowed to, to use this method to research resources and information from databases. There are also social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter where numerous topics are being discussed. While these are sources of information, not all information acquired from these sources are valid and further efforts by consumers would be needed to ensure that accurate information is what is being used in their efforts to participate in the policy process.
American Nurses Association (ANA). (2014). When Nurses Talk…Washington Listens. Retrieved from http://www.rnaction.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=12121&em_id=15681.0
Kraft, M., & Furlong, S. (2015). Public policy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.