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Political Competence

Political Competence

Political Competence

Political competence is the ability to comprehend what actions to take and when to take these actions, anticipate any possible resistances, and determine people suited to help you achieve the agenda. In the nursing profession, political competence is the skills and values that a nurse requires to be effectively involved in politics surrounding the nursing profession (Melo et al., 2017). A nurse leader can demonstrate political competence by participating in political advocacy and policy formulation. Nurses have the highest number of healthcare professionals who spend most of their time with patients. Hence, they are uniquely positioned to understand and develop potential solutions to healthcare problems such as access to care, healthcare costs, and quality (Patton et al., 2019). Subsequently, they can participate in political advocacy to help in policy formulation.

The primary role of nurse leaders is to supervise their subordinates, make clinical decisions, and direct patient care(Patton et al., 2019). Nurses can, however, be involved in political processes that affect the nursing profession. Nurse leaders can use their skills and experiences to overcome political problems that affect the nursing profession. This consists of the use of political competence. At the local level, nurse leaders can demonstrate political competence in the local level by encouraging their subordinates to vote for good local leaders who can implement policies that ensure quality healthcare services. At the national level, they can demonstrate political competence by participating in political advocacy. A nurse leader can take leadership positions in national organizations such as the American Nurses Association. A nurse leader can thus represent other nurses in policy-making processes. They can participate in the enactment of healthcare acts and give their input. This can help formulate policies that will ensure quality and cost-effective healthcare services are offered to patients.


Melo, W. S., Oliveira, P. J., Monteiro, F. P., Santos, F. C., Silva, M. J., Calderon, C. J., Fonseca, L. N., & Simão, A. A. (2017). Guide of attributes of the nurse’s political competence: A methodological study. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem70(3), 526-534.

Patton, R. M., Zalon, M. L., & Ludwick, R. (2019). Nurses making policy: From bedside to boardroom (2nd ed.). Springer Publishing Company.


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Define “political competence” and discuss at least one example of how a nurse leader has or could demonstrate political competence at the local, state, or national level. The example may be from an organizational perspective or a political challenge.
BOOK: Patton, Zalon, Ludwick (2019): Chapters 1, 2
Citations: At least one high-level scholarly reference in APA from within the last 5 years

Political Competence

Political Competence

Given that nurses comprise the largest sector of healthcare providers, spend the most time with patients, and share a unique intimacy with patients related to functional care activities, nurses bring critical understanding and potential solutions to many high-profile, complex healthcare issues such as access, quality, cost, and value. Nurses. “…practice at the intersection of public policy and personal lives; they are, therefore, ideally situated and morally obligated to include sociopolitical advocacy in their practice” (Falk-Rafael, 2005, p. 222). Every day, nurses see how health policy decisions, such as access to care based on pre-existing conditions, impact patients and their families and how organizational staffing policies may harm patients and adversely affect nurses and their work environment. Creating and maintaining health policy is everyone’s job. Some believe that one’s position defines policy involvement. We argue that health policy is everyone’s responsibility. Nurse managers, educators, and administrators are often viewed as having more obvious roles in the successful articulation of federal and state regulations and implementation of institutional policies. Nurses providing direct care live at the edge of those policies and regulations every day, an advantage that is vital to informing, shaping, monitoring, and evaluating policy. Nurses are uniquely qualified to assume important roles in policy. We agree with Feldman and Lewenson, who state that “nursing skills are political skills” (2000, p. 58). 4 We make the case, beginning with this chapter and throughout the book, that once policy skills are understood and practiced, nurses can successfully engage in advocacy through policy making. These skills are essential to nurses in the trenches, performing direct care across all settings, and nurses in leadership, education, and research positions. Thus, policy work is the role of every nurse. The following Policy Challenge illustrates how care at the bedside can lead to a policy journey with great impact.

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