A health policy education initiative to increase political self-efficacy in texas nurse practitioners
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Texas ranks lowest in the nation for access to healthcare. Improvement could be facilitated by active engagement of nurses in political activities and health policy advocacy. Political Self Efficacy (PSE) is the belief or idea that one can influence policymakers and/or the political process. Historically, nurse practitioners (NPs) have had low PSE because political activity in nurses tends to be limited to voting. This health policy education initiative was a collaboration between the Texas Nurse Practitioners (TNP) organization and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) to provide an evidence-based educational resource for Texas NPs to improve their PSE and ability to advocate for high quality healthcare for Texas residents. Approximately 5,145 members of TNP, were invited to participate in this health policy education initiative. Participants completed the Efficacy Index (EI) survey before and after attending two live educational webinars addressing key NP policies, the legislative process and engagement in advocacy. Participants were predominantly White females, held a master’s degree in Nursing, were certified as Family Nurse Practitioners, aged 46-65 years of age, and had an income between $80,000-$120,000/year. Pre-education mean scores improved, but only slightly (Webinar 1: 48.3 to 50.0; Webinar 2: 49.3 to 50.5). Initial levels of PSE in this NP sample were higher than expected, likely due to higher education, experience, and membership in a professional organization. Targeted educational interventions can improve PSE levels in NPs resulting in increased engagement in the political process, making it imperative to educate all nurses, and to expand educational opportunities to NPs outside of professional organizations. Nurses constitute the largest group of healthcare providers and have the potential to positively impact legislative health policies. Through increased PSE, Texas NPs can become the needed change agents to advocate for the rights of their profession and their patients.
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