What is it about?

A plethora of literature suggests that many nurses struggle in their attempts to develop a political role that allows them to directly influence and implement health policy activity. This article looks for solutions to redress this problem related to influencing curricula.

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Why is it important?

Nursing curricula are an integral part of ensuring that nurses are capable of taking on a more active role in initiating and developing health policy processes, through a broadening of the health promotion curriculum that focuses on socio-political approaches to health care provision. Despite this, the available literature suggests that the majority of nursing curricula are yet to fulfil this role. Such a role could be supported by attempts to define and promote a specific career route that develops nurses as health policy experts and entrepreneurs early on in their careers. This article aims to put forward a rationale for developing such a position in nursing education.


Nurses have to be in a position where they are not only conversant with the language of health policy but can effectively navigate health policy arenas. Health policy activity is now the single largest influence in determining the nature of nursing and health care provision. Consequently, nursing education has a clear duty to place health policy provision at its forefront and prepare the nurse practitioner for a concerted health policy role, early on in their developing careers. Heller et al. (2000), in predicting the trends to watch for in future nursing curricula, suggest that one of the most notable aspects will lie in preparing students for a meaningful role in the political arena. From the arguments presented I hope and believe that this will be the case. The challenge lies with the will and determination of the educational forces that shape individual nurses to translate any existing political vacuum into concerted political action.

Dr Dean Whitehead
Flinders University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The health-promoting nurse as a health policy career expert and entrepreneur, Nurse Education Today, November 2003, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/s0260-6917(03)00097-2.
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