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Why nursing leaders need to understand healthcare laws and policy changes

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Laws and policies affect every aspect of healthcare delivery, impacting everyone who receives these services.

This means it’s essential that anyone in the business of providing healthcare has an understanding of these laws and policies, as well as any changes to them.

This includes nurses, who are on the frontline of care, and nurse leaders, who draw on their knowledge and experience to help shape the healthcare of the future.

In this article, we’re going to explore the impact that well-informed leaders have on staff, patients, and healthcare settings.

We’ll also find out how you can progress your career to become a nurse leader who has a deep understanding of healthcare law and policy, and how you can use this knowledge to help transform healthcare provision for the better.


What are healthcare laws and policies?

A healthcare policy is a formal statement of an approach to any aspect of healthcare, while a healthcare law is the framework according to which policies are implemented.

Policies that are enforced by law are passed by Congress. In addition to this, individual organizations may have their own policies to describe their agreed standards, procedures, and practices.

One of the most well-known healthcare laws in the United States is the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which aimed to extend affordable health insurance to more people, widen the scope of the Medicaid program (to help people on low incomes with healthcare costs), and encourage ways of delivering healthcare that lowers the cost of medical treatment.

This is an example of a healthcare law that has had a wide-reaching impact on individuals across the United States and continues to do so today.

Of course, there are many other policies and laws relating to healthcare, which have the ultimate aim of improving the healthcare experience for all and relate to topics as diverse as the use of medication and promoting healthy lifestyles, all the way through to the protection of sensitive data.

The positive impact of well-informed leaders

Nurse leaders who have a good grasp of healthcare laws and policies direct healthcare in their organization from a strong position.

They have the ability to understand the bigger picture, the motivations, and the rationale behind healthcare policies and laws. They also know how these elements translate on a tangible level to the patient experience.

Starting with how they manage their teams, nurse leaders who are in touch with healthcare policy and law communicate the importance of these clearly to staff, so that they, in turn, feel empowered and included.

Explaining to staff why a procedure is in place is as important as ensuring that it is implemented properly. Communicating in this way means that staff are better motivated and more productive, impacting positively on retention rates.

Understanding healthcare laws and policies also means that the nurse leader supports the latest developments in healthcare, ensuring that these benefits are passed down to their patients.

This impacts on the healthcare environment. For example, being up-to-date with the latest procedures for infection control in a healthcare setting, and training around this issue, means that nurse leaders are ensuring that their patients are cared for in the cleanest, safest environment and have a reduced risk of infection.

But in a challenging healthcare landscape, it’s not enough to understand healthcare laws and policies.

The highly educated and involved nurse leaders of today are active players in shaping these for better healthcare in the future.

They will be involved in the various activities that make up the decision-making process, from leading research projects to sitting on committees, to taking on managerial roles within their organizations.

These actions are where nurse leaders can perhaps make the biggest impact. Through striving for positive and innovative changes to healthcare policies and laws, they are helping to create a future for healthcare in which patient needs are at the very heart.

How can I progress to become a nurse leader?

If you’re reading this article, then the chances are you are already working in nursing practice and have a passion for delivering quality healthcare and striving for ever-better services.

You may also have considered embarking on a program of further study to enable you to take on a nurse leadership role that will allow you to make a real difference in the way healthcare is delivered.

If this sounds like you, then why not consider a doctorate in nursing leadership? This program of study builds on your existing experience in the healthcare sector and previous leadership experience in preparation for roles where you’ll need to apply a deep understanding of healthcare laws and policies.

Many candidates who already have a high level of education are eligible to enroll in the Baylor University Doctor of Nursing Practice – Executive Nurse Leadership (DNP-ENL) program.

The course is tailored for busy working professionals since it’s delivered online so no traveling to campus is required.

This means you can study when and where it suits you, and still maintain your many professional and personal commitments.

The course is a solid foundation for effecting change in healthcare, giving you the ability to apply for roles that you know will really make transformative changes to the way patients experience care.

If you’re serious about getting ahead in your nursing career and offering the best to your community, then this nursing leadership doctorate is most definitely for you.

Better care for everyone

Nurse leaders have many responsibilities that come as part of their role, including understanding the healthcare policies and laws that dictate the services that are ultimately delivered to patients.

Those who have a calling to take part in shaping these policies and procedures are the nurse leaders of the future. They will be key in taking healthcare in a direction that will benefit as many patients as possible.

If this is a goal you aspire to, consider a doctorate in nursing leadership. This program of study will prepare you to take on ever more challenging roles, which will reward you with the satisfaction of helping to provide better care for everyone.

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