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The policy imperative: Paving the way for excellence in nursing practice

McDonald, T. A., 2011

Sigma Theta Tau (STTI) Conference. Plenary, Brisbane, Australia


Global economic capriciousness and the changing world demographic profile underscores the need for almost every sphere of human services to engage with the inevitability of change. Whether or not the nursing profession is prepared to accept this inevitability will determine if nurses can influence policy that will shape their future practice; or if they simply accept decisions made by others as to what their role and contribution to health outcomes will be in this new environment.

Impediments to effective involvement of nurses in policy processes, including regulation, invariably reflect and accentuate gaps in nurses' awareness of the impact of public policy on what society and their profession demands from them, and what their country's regulated practice environment allows.

Identification, analysis and the application of effective influence on the driving forces that change public demands and expectations, can enable professional groups to attain and maintain their effectiveness by constructing progressive, proactive refinements to policy. Changes in regulations often entail legislation, compromise, time and commitment - all of which require intellectual agility from those involved.

The consequences of policy change can be sudden and brutal. Nurses in clinical, management and research roles need to appreciate that government regulation can and often does impede change, innovation and public satisfaction with nurses and their services.

While change may be inevitable, passive acceptance of change designed by others is not. Nurses in every country and every practise context must recognise that the future will not be a lineal progression of the past and the present policy environment, therefore neglect of this crucial driver of nursing's future is not an option. It remains for us to determine whose values will be applied to design, evaluate and refine nursing practice.

Our shared objective must be to achieve and sustain full acknowledgement of nursing's expert and diverse contribution to future public health; and to support and further develop the clinical core of nursing.

CITATION McDonald T. The policy imperative: Paving the way for excellence in Nursing. Opening Plenary. Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) 23rd International Nursing Research Congress, Creating a Legacy through Nursing Research Innovation & Global Collaboration, 30 July – 3 August 2012, Brisbane, Australia


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