Nurses as Self-Styled Lobbyists and Advocates


Published: 15 January 2020

When we think of political lobbyists or advocates, we often think of professional influencers who represent large industries like oil and gas, automobile manufacturers and others.

In the United States, some nursing organisations employ lobbyists to influence legislators regarding healthcare-related bills that come before various deliberative bodies like the US Senate or Congress, or their counterparts at the state level.

More nurses are realising their voices matter and that they can indeed effect political, legislative and societal change in this complex 21st century when so much seems to be at stake.

Can individual nurses be self-styled ‘lobbyists’ or advocates and influence those with decision-making power?

How can nurses more readily advocate for those causes, people and groups they care about?

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Nurses Speaking for the Voiceless

In the US, the annual Gallup poll demonstrates year after year that Americans view nurses as the most honest and trustworthy professionals, and this high esteem is likely reflected in other countries as well.

Nurses are in a powerful position to serve as advocates for those less likely to be listened to. In societies where power dynamics are such that disenfranchised communities lack a voice, nurses are able to speak on their behalf.

From chronic disease to the impact of poverty, nurses have their finger on the pulse of many timely issues.

Thus, nurses hold the key to bringing salient issues to the attention of those who hold power, whether it’s the media, the government or other influential individuals or groups.

While nurses can sometimes seem apologetic for having an opinion or making waves, there are also those outspoken nurse advocates who consistently put themselves on the line for the vulnerable; these individuals truly make a difference.

Nurse Advocacy: An Influential Megaphone

Nurse advocacy takes many forms, depending on context and circumstance. With the potential to receive the attention of decision-makers and power brokers, nurses can use their professional standing as a megaphone for stepping up and speaking out.

Nurse lobbying or advocacy comes in many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Letters to the editor
  • Letters to, or meetings with, lawmakers/legislators
  • Being on the call list of reporters and journalists
  • Meeting with hospital and health system administrators
  • Speaking with citizen groups (parents, teachers, etc.)
  • Launching a nurse-run blog, YouTube channel or podcast
  • Writing books on issues of societal importance
  • Joining nursing organisations with strong advocacy-based missions
  • Finding opportunities to contribute opinion pieces to local, regional, national or international print and online publications.

Insofar as nurses create their own platforms for addressing crucial, timely issues, finding a foothold in the mainstream media may not always be easy. Thus, it may sometimes be most efficacious for earnest nurses to strike out on their own.

Nurses can leverage audio or video technology to express their views via podcasting or YouTube, or writing via a blog or website; meanwhile, those podcast episodes or individual videos can then be brought to the attention of the media through press releases and other publicity.

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Never Underestimate a Nurse

Nurses should never underestimate the influence they can wield in terms of public discourse. As highly trusted professionals, nurses’ opinions matter, but they must first believe in the power of their own voices in order to be effective and convincing.

It’s incumbent upon nurses to get in touch with their own powers of persuasion, find their inner voice, and then choose actions or interventions with the most impact.

Nurses can and do effect change in the world; in that regard, they can actively decide to become educated on topics of importance, formulate their opinions and step outside of their comfort zones by inserting themselves into conversations that shape our policies, lifestyles and societies.

Nurses’ voices are crucial; have you found yours?


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Keith Carlson View profile
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms---including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram - as well as at and Digital Doorway.