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Chapter 3 Nurse Educators: Political Behavior and Public Policies INTRODUCTION Rapid and tumultuous changes in the health care industry result from policy choices at all levels of government. Nurses, regardless of their site of practice, are affected on a daily basis by politics. It impacts many issues of importance to them, such as the scope and site of practice, reimbursement, malpractice, licensure, education, and research , to cite a few. Moreover, the range of health-related subjects with which government is concerned has enlarged. Thus, the profession is increasingly fashioned by political decisions that are relevant to areas with which it is identified: the workplace, government, professional organizations, and the community at large. In this context nurses’ political participation is vital to the attainment of professional and personal goals. Given the extent to which political decisions affect the profession, nursing is inseparable from politics that directly relates to professional status. The public and, more specifically, nurse educators, have a plethora of opportunities as individuals or as group members to influence political decisions. Three models symbolize political linkages and the interaction between the public and its decision makers. In the first one, constituents, as individuals, using rewards and sanctions in 77 the form of votes and campaign assistance among other activities, influence their representatives, who logically should take the constituents ’ preferences into account because of the damage or aid that they can deliver. The same methods may be used in connection with membership in or support for mediating groups such as interest associations or political parties that bring together people with common interests and preferences to be transmitted to political leaders. Again, it is assumed the elite will listen to these messages because of the possibility of sanctions. These models relate to direct influence in that pressure is directly exerted on representatives or candidates for public office. Constituent influence may also be of the indirect variety. This results when representatives act in accordance with constituent preferences either because they are of the same conviction or they believe that such preferences should prevail over their own. All of these models are interdependent. For example, the importance of the electoral linkage is related to group linkages that, in turn, are connected to the representative ones (Ippolito, Walker, & Kolson, 1976). It is through role modeling that nurse educators can demonstrate the significance of political involvement to the profession and its future members. Moreover, as noted above, faculty role modeling of the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors associated with successfully impacting the political system is critical to the development of political competence. Most participants in the survey (79%) acknowledged faculty role modeling as the most effective strategy for involving students in policy development. Given their influence on future members of the profession, it is timely to examine the political involvement of nurse educators. This chapter has as its principal thrust the sample’s political participation, political legislative knowledge base, and attitudes toward policy development. POLITICAL PARTICIPATION Consisting of many forms, political participation refers to individual activities in the political arena by citizens. A section of the survey was designed to elicit information concerning the respondents’ identification with various participation modes. The most basic form of political participation is one central to theories of democratic con78 Nurse Educators and Politics trol through elections: voting, an act that relates the individual to the political system, legitimizes the democratic process, and serves as a visible and symbolic component of political participation and strength. The ballot is an effective instrument of citizen participation. Assuming competition among the political parties contesting the election , voters have an opportunity to influence policy making in general and on a specific basis—issue by issue. Elections are an important form of control. The amount of control they exercise depends on the type of policy involved. Sometimes the public is not interested in issues or it is not adequately informed. Thus, it exerts no immediate control. This is particularly true when the issues are very complex and technically sophisticated or they do not directly impinge on the individual voter. The public’s judgment is usually retrospective on those issues that are debated and discussed during political campaigns. Consequently, leaders at first exercise considerable discretion in problem solving. Their performance and decision -making skills are reviewed and evaluated come election time. Rather than prescribing or proscribing specific policy initiatives, electors have an interest in the performance of the political parties or public officials in power. They issue rewards or sanctions through the ballot box. However, there are instances...


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MARC Record
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