Advocating for Nurses and Health Care, at the National and International Levels

By Milenko Martinovich

Amid an ever-changing and increasingly complex health care landscape, nurses offer a unique perspective on health reform that advances health care for diverse communities.

Three UCSF School of Nursing faculty members are continuing a long tradition of faculty leaders who are steering impactful change on the national and international stage. As presidents of major professional nursing organizations, these faculty members are leading important initiatives — from influencing policy, to increasing diversity, to enhancing access to care — that will advance health care access for patients nationwide and across the globe. 

Impacting Policy

As president of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN), a group of more than 400 international academic and clinical professionals, School of Nursing associate professor Deborah Johnson is leveraging the organization’s clout to influence policymakers.

She created the organization’s first policy committee, tasked with addressing laws and regulations impacting psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners.

“We had some powerhouse members who influenced on an individual level,” said Johnson, “but ISPN is in a position to do more together than a person can do individually.”

Ensuring full practice authority for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) is a top priority for Johnson and California’s recent passage of legislation expanding scope of practice for certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners is a positive sign. Enabling nurses to practice with greater authority helps fill a critical gap in the shortage of primary care providers, especially in rural areas, and provides patients more choices for care. More than 200 studies have shown the quality of care of nurse practitioners is similar to a physician, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

ISPN has continued to build upon a partnership with the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice, an organization that addresses issues from climate change to LGBTQ+ rights, and the groups are sharing resources to collaborate on common issues such as mental health care and well-being. ISPN has also been sponsored for membership with the Mental Health Liaison Group, a coalition of more than 60 national nursing organizations advancing federal policies on mental health and addiction. 

Johnson began her term in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic strengthened, threatening the organization’s financial state and putting its widely attended annual conference at risk. She guided the organization’s transition to a virtual conference, bringing in much-needed funding to stabilize the group financially.

Read the full story on our Science of Caring website.

(Posting date: Nov. 17, 2020)