NRS 430 Professional Development of Nursing Professionals
NRS 430 Professional Development of Nursing Professionals
Nurses play a significant role in the attainment of health equity and overall wellness of the population, especially as the American healthcare system reforms and improves access to quality care for millions of its citizens. According to the National Academy of Medicine report, “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity,” nurses can help reform the health system and ensure that populations and individuals attain health equity by offering care based on evidence and informed by existing policies (Hassmiller, 2021). The purpose of this paper is to review the report by the National Academy of Medicine and its impact on the professional development of nurses and the achievement of health equity.
Recommendations of the NAM Report & Significance of Health Equity
At the core of the NAM report is the attainment of health equity through systems that educate, pay, and employ nurses to permanently remove any barriers to health care, value the contribution of nurses, prepare them to address health equity, and encourage the development of a diverse nursing professional workforce (Sumpter et al., 2022). The report asserts that attaining health equity requires addressing barriers and ensuring that all people have opportunities to be healthy and happy. Health equity involves removing all the obstacles like prejudice and limited resource allocation that influence or lead to disparities. The report recommends that every person should get healthcare services to attain their maximum health and perform better and nurses play a critical role in helping individuals and populations achieve health equity.
Health equity implies that people should get the same opportunities and have sufficient resources in accessing healthcare services despite their diverse backgrounds or who they are. Furthermore, health equity ensures that each person is healthier and more successful, leading to healthy and productive communities with reduced prevalence of certain diseases, especially chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension (Sumpter et al., 2022). The report notes that the nursing workforce should not only be strengthened but also diversified to adequately improve health and represent the individuals and organizations it serves (Hassmiller, 2021). Through the support of stakeholders, nurses can enhance their competencies, knowledge, and skills to attain the expected positive outcomes.
Social Determinants of Health and Impact on Health Equity
Despite the critical role that health plays, certain factors still influence one’s access to quality healthcare services and outcomes. Social determinants of health (SDOH) are environmental conditions in which individuals live, learn work, play, and age that impact a host of health, functioning, and the quality of life as well as risks. The social determinants of health can either be positive or negative aspects of these conditions. These include education, health systems and services, income and wealth, the physical environment, and neighborhood and public safety. Others entail employment status and social environment that include institutions and policies. These SDOHs have a critical effect on access to health care and attainment of health equity.
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Income as a social determinant of health (SDOH) is a critical aspect as many people lack access to health equity and opportunities due to a lack of or limited resources. Before the enactment of the ACA in 2010, over 16% of Americans, especially from low-income households and racial minority groups, did not have medical or health insurance. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA 2010) ensured that over 25 million Americans get health insurance (Hassmiller, 2021). A core reason for this population lacking health insurance was income level as many could not afford to pay the required premiums. Again, studies are categorical that individuals from low-income families and communities are more likely to postpone visiting their physicians due to the cost involved (Yearby, 2020). Again, individuals who have no health insurance are more likely to present in the emergency department due to their health condition and without resources. The implication is that such populations and individuals cannot attain healthy well-being because of the associated disparities and lack of health equity.
Role of Nurses in Improving Health Equity & Impacting Social Needs
Nurses have a critical role in enhancing health equity and influencing social needs among different populations, especially the underserved and uninsured. Health inequities entail systematic differences in opportunities aimed at attaining optimal health and lead to unfair and unnecessary differences in outcomes. These inequities disproportionately affect people of color, the LGBTQ community, and those living with disabilities as well as individuals with low incomes and those in rural settings. Imperatively, as core healthcare providers, nurses ensure that these groups and populations have equal access to affordable and quality care like others without any barriers (Wei et al., 2020). Nurses do this by improving access through expanded scope of practice, specializing in certain areas of care provision, through advocacy initiatives, and working collaboratively within and outside the healthcare system with policymakers to implement reforms and changes in the sector. Nurses interact with patients and identify the inherent barriers and implement evidence-based practice (EBP) interventions to overcome these obstacles.
Nurses impact social needs among these individuals as they identify nonmedical and acute resource aspects that impact these individuals and groups and hinder their access to healthcare. Nurses can impact social needs by identifying their SDOH at the population level and proposing certain governmental interventions to promote the wellness and health of the individuals and the population (Sumpter et al., 2022). For instance, nurses can collaborate with other stakeholders to improve and emphasize increased investment in health promotion activities and primary care to prevent diseases, particularly chronic conditions.
Significance of Self-Care to Reduce Nursing Burnout
Nurses require self-care as a core part of improving their performance and dealing with fatigue and burnout associated with increased workload based on the rise in care demands due to the continuous reforms in healthcare. Self-care for nurses involves the promotion of one’s health; from physical to psychological, social, spiritual, and emotional to improve the overall functionality of the body (Martínez et al., 2021). Self-care is preventive for nurses as it allows them to take care of themselves with compassion and healthy coping initiatives which makes them better positioned and equipped to offer quality patient care.
Self-care is critical because of the substantial risk of workplace stress and strain leading to burnout among nurses as witnessed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A huge number of nurses reported feeling down, depressed, and sad as well as fatigued. As such, through self-care, nurses can pay closer attention to their health; from mental to physical, and develop or implement initiatives that counter the situation. Self-care is therapeutic as it lowers stress and replenishes a nurse’s ability to offer compassion and empathy and helps in improving overall quality of care. It also promotes patient safety as it reduces the chances of medication and medical errors (Wei et al., 2020). Evidence-based strategies available for nurses to enhance their physical and spiritual self-care include engaging in work out and joining a yoga class and meditation. Further, nurses can enhance their spiritual self-care by engaging in their faith and even volunteering in some programs in their communities or the workplace. Through these activities, they can replenish and improve their overall performance and functioning.
The NAM report on the future of nursing paves the way for nurses to enhance their capacity and ability to offer quality care by addressing inherent barriers that limit access to care. Health equity is essential for the nation to attain overall wellness and healthy living for its population. Furthermore, nurses should ensure that they attain self-care to replenish their functionality and deliver quality care to diverse patients and health populations.
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