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APNs as Healthcare Policy Leaders

Create a response to the following discussion. Inasmuch as healthcare policy primarily affects patients, it directly impacts those that provide care to them, in this discussion post, namely advanced practice nurses (APNs). Healthcare policies affect delivery, access to, and cost of care. These effects will impact the ability and delivery of care by APNs. A systematic review by Woo et al. (2017) noted that healthcare policies affecting the cost of care would have organizations seeking more APNs who can be billed for the same level of care and outcomes as their physician counterparts but at a lower rate. Healthcare policies impacting access to and delivery of care will directly have to address NP autonomy barriers in practice which is a significant issue to NP-led care (Brom et al., 2018). There is a cause-and-effect relationship between healthcare policy and the APN profession as governing laws, restrictions, and regulations may prevent APNs from delivering care to the full extent of their scope of practice. APNs focus on advocating for quality, cost-effective and improved access to health care (National Organization of Nurse Practitioners Faculties, 2012). This role is only an extension of the ethical obligations of RNs (Hanks et al., 2017). Advanced practice nurses, now in the role of diagnosing, managing, and treating patients, are obligated to ensure that the care patients receive is ethical and safe. Patient advocacy is an essential component of the APN’s role as it is the base to which policy change, research, leadership, ethics, and quality are derived. Practicing patient advocacy ensures that decisions and changes made to healthcare policy and practice are centered around the well-being of patients and the populations APNs care for. Advocacy is also essential to the APN’s role as the increased knowledge and experience provide a foundation to understand the complexities of current and potential health issues (Hanks et al., 2017). The ability to utilize and incorporate evidence-based research into practice and change is how APNs advocate for patients and their served population. Boamah et al. (2018) define transformational leadership as a leadership style that creates a work environment supportive and empowering to staff that enables a desire and push for excellence. Transformational leadership has been linked to improved staff satisfaction and patient outcomes. This leadership style is characterized by respect and trust for the leader, which breeds engagement among staff and achievement of organizational goals (Boamah et al., 2018). Transformational leadership’s four pillars are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. Idealized influence is a pillar defined by behaviors and attributes that characterize the leader as a role model who leads by example, follows their set standards of conduct, and gains the trust and support of those they lead (Boamah et al., 2018). This pillar is essential to influencing policy change as staff who witness leaders be the change they wish to see are more likely to believe in the said leader’s goals and desire for change. The study conducted by Boamah et al. (2018) noted that nurses that saw their managers lead by example, though not in total agreement with policy change, were keener to listen to and consider changes in their practice. Policy change cannot occur without support from the staff. Idealized influence sets the beginning of that support. Inspirational motivation is defined by leaders’ ability to share values and expectations and further inspire a desire to change and efforts towards achieving set goals (Boamah et al., 2018). The use of inspirational motivation highlights the crucial role staff play in organizational or policy change and how transformational leaders draw staff into being committed to those goals. Inspirational motivation can influence policy change as it demonstrates to staff that they are essential and valued by the leader and the organization. They also can fully understand the vital role they play in implementing change and effectively can become committed to the goal. Intellectual stimulation is a vital pillar of transformational leadership. It actively involves staff in the decision-making process and allows staff to verbalize their perspective on issues and other ways they could be solved (Boamah et al., 2018). In addition to feeling valued through inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation empowers staff. This sense of empowerment fosters an environment of support and commitment to the leader or organization’s values and further commitment to effective change. Through intellectual stimulation, staff are not only seen and heard but given a chance to verbalize their thoughts. This further promotes engagement and cohesiveness between leaders and staff. Intellectual stimulation is vital to influencing policy change as it enables staff to vocalize their opinions and possibly offer other solutions. At times the intended policy change could be altered to incorporate provided solutions, and even when not, staff at least feel integral to the decision-making process, which, like the other pillars, improves commitment to policy change. Lastly, individualized consideration focuses on leaders engaging and addressing each staff’s needs and mentoring them (Boamah et al., 2018). Individualized consideration allows leaders to have a more personal relationship with staff members and understand their concerns. It also gives leaders the ability to establish plans to help work through those concerns and develop each staff member. Individualized consideration is important to influencing policy change as it helps develop the individual staff, which effectively contributes to the overall goal for achieving change. Transformational leadership can positively influence policy change as it engages the leader and those being led. It allows the leader to engage with followers and motivate them through leading by example, inspiration, empowerment, and ongoing support. Ensuring that followers are engaged and committed to change plays a vital role in supporting policy change. Boamah, S. A., Laschinger, H. K. S., Wong, C., & Clarke, S. (2018). Effect of transformational leadership on job satisfaction and patient safety outcomes. Nursing Outlook, 66(2), 180-189. Brom, H. M., Salsberry, P. J., & Graham, M. C. (2018). Leveraging health care reform to accelerate nurse practitioner full practice authority. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 30(3), 120-130. Hanks, R. G., Starnes-Ott, K, & Stafford, L. (2017). Patient advocacy at the APRN level: A direction for the future. Nursing Forum, 53(1), 5-11. National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. (2012). Nurse practitioner core competencies. Woo, B. F. Y.., Lee, J. X. Y., & Tam, W. W. S. (2017). The impact of the advanced practice nursing role on quality of care, clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and cost in the emergency and critical care settings: A systematic review. Human Resources for Health, 15(63), 1-22.