Advanced nurses are required to keep up to date with social, cultural and political issues to enable them to make decisions in providing the highest level of patient care. Changes in society can affect the types of health issues advanced care nurses see and the root causes of some health problems.
Health issues can arise with changes in the demographics of a nation. Some populations are simply more vulnerable to some illnesses than others, and it is important for advanced care nurses to recognize that so they can offer high levels of care to all and avoid mistakes.
Policies can affect healthcare
Politicians and political officials have a major say regarding laws and proposals that can affect the healthcare of millions of people. For example, if there is a proposed change to Medicaid or Medicare coverage, it can affect some of the most disadvantaged people.
Recent legislation that affected a lot of people was the states’ rights to expand Medicaid coverage to make it easier for more people to obtain affordable or fully subsidized health insurance. Some states took a significant amount of time discussing and implementing this policy. Thankfully, some states that were stubborn about passing expanded healthcare have since decided to expand care.
Nurses play a role in fighting for positive policy changes. All too often, medical policies are created and pushed by those with little to no professional medical knowledge. This is a major problem with healthcare policy that must change if healthcare access and knowledge are to be improved.
Social issues can affect healthcare requests and choices
One thing we saw during COVID-19 was people choosing how they would socially distance. While government officials made declarations, many of these were difficult or impossible to enforce except in very public settings such as government institutions. Choices that people made to socialize with others privately or to attend large gatherings affected transmission rates of COVID-19 and increased hospitalizations.
Rumors and misinformation made it very confusing for people. It is important to remember that some made the choice to not social distance because they had loved ones who depended on them for essential care and support.
Cultural differences can affect access and quality of care
Different cultures have customs that can affect the type of care they will seek and allow. Religious customs may mean that although you, as an advanced care nurse, highly recommend treatment, a patient refuses it. This may mean you need to find the best way to care for the patient while respecting the boundaries they set based on their belief system.
Those who do not speak English may be at a disadvantage when seeking medical care because it is difficult for them to communicate their needs. Recent immigrants to the US may have other fears that keep them from seeking care until they have no choice.
Nurses who can speak a second language can make it easier for some groups to feel comfortable seeking urgent as well as preventative care for themselves and their families.
Societal changes can have mental health consequences
All health is related in some way. During times of major societal stress or economic troubles, the rates of depression and other mental disorders increase. When this happens, it has a snowball effect on the health of society overall.
With issues in mental health come higher levels of alcohol and drug abuse. As any medical professional knows, the effect of substance abuse on someone’s physical health can be devastating.
Advanced care nurses need to pay attention to trends in mental health and substance abuse so they can treat the whole person. For example, if a patient comes in with respiratory issues and shows signs of drug addiction, the two issues may be related. Mental health issues can lead to substance abuse, and substance abuse can lead to mental health issues. Something must be done to stop the cycle to allow the patient to heal.
Staffing shortages have changed medical care
Nurses and other medical professionals have been forced to learn to do more with less. Thanks to advances in technology and electronic record keeping, nurses have been able to do this on some level.
The problem is that technology can only go so far, and budgets can limit the ability of some medical facilities to embrace the latest and most effective time-saving measures.
Expanding recruiting efforts and teaching medical staff to work more efficiently as a team can also help.
A rapidly aging population is expected to lead to even more demand for healthcare services in the future. In addition, there are many advanced care professionals retiring or aging out of their positions, so now is a great time for motivated nurses to gain the education and skills they need to take over advanced and administrative positions within medical facilities.
Encourage others to pursue a healthcare career
A career in healthcare has a lot to offer. There is a great need for advanced healthcare professionals, particularly those specializing in adult care. Reputable institutions such as Rockhurst University Online offer the Master of Science in Nursing Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program for healthcare professionals who want to specialize in providing care for the aging population affected by acute illnesses.
At Rockhurst, all programs are designed for working professionals and offer the choice between full and part-time learning. Clinical placement services are included in program fees so students can concentrate on coursework and gain experience while completing their program.
Staying up-to-date and knowledgeable is important for nurses because it affects patients’ access to healthcare and the types of services offered in some cases.
Social and cultural issues can affect the likelihood that a patient will seek care before it becomes an emergency. Decisions for treatment can also be based on religious or social customs.