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While hospitals and other healthcare settings vary from place to place, all must implement healthcare policies. These set out the goals and principles for how healthcare is delivered and accessed and may be set out on a federal, national, or local level, as well as by the healthcare settings themselves. Healthcare policies help shape the role of all the professionals involved in healthcare, including pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and medical professionals. The role of a nurse is crucial to healthcare, so the impact of healthcare policies influences their practice.
Nurses will first be introduced to healthcare policies during their training as it shapes how they are trained, including how much time they need to spend on clinical placements. This is true for all accredited nursing courses, whether attending in person or through a high-quality online university.
The requirement for clinical placement hours can put some people off considering an online nursing program as they worry about complications in arranging it. However, this need not be the case, as seen in the online programs delivered by the University of Indianapolis. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree might be interested in the UIndy accelerated nursing program, where a placement team will reach out to sites and preceptors on your behalf to help secure the clinical experience you require.
Many policies are in place for patient safety, as their well-being lies at the heart of healthcare and nursing practice. Policies allow for standardized practice of elements of patient care such as charting, delivering medication, and disinfection, making it easier for nurses to follow what has occurred in a previous shift and how to regulate their own conduct.
Policies are in place to help nurses as well as patients. In an emergency, there may need to be several elements to consider at once, which could lead to confusion and delay. But with policies in place, nurses and other medical professionals know which steps to follow and in what order, making it easier for them to respond as a team.
Some healthcare policies are decided by the hospital, and one of these is likely to be the medication policies. Giving the wrong type of medicine or getting the dosage wrong can have serious implications. The healthcare policy will set out who can access drugs, how the records are kept, and inventory control and disposal practices. While the paperwork needed to maintain the medication records can seem irksome, the policies are in place to protect nurses and other medical professionals if there are any questions on medicine dispensation.
Healthcare carries risks, and it is impossible to eliminate those risks completely, but effective, robust policies can mitigate them. This provides reassurance for patients undergoing treatment, but it also provides reassurance for the nurses. Policies on all aspects of patient care allow the nurse to demonstrate how they have met expectations and, in the event of an adverse outcome, can reduce the risk of liability.
Another way that policies protect nurses is through their HR policies. These set out what the nurse can expect as an employee of the hospital and what the workplace has the right to expect of the nurse. It can cover items such as dress codes, social media use, shift patterns, and vacation policies. With clear policies, nurses know how to conduct their work and what action to take if their employer does not meet their requirements.
Poor communication in the workplace makes the work of a nurse harder and increases the chances of accidents. Policies should be in place to set out expectations on communication, allowing internal communication to be managed effectively. Nurses must be able to liaise with many other medical professionals, across departments and with nurses on different shifts within the same department. Having policies in place to set out the method of communication, how it should be carried out, and any short-hand or abbreviations that are commonly used will save time on busy shifts and reduce the chances of accidents.
Healthcare Policies for Nurses
Healthcare policies are part of the day-to-day life of a nurse from the moment they start training through to retirement. While at the start of training, the number of policies to understand may seem overwhelming, you will soon become accustomed to them and be glad of the framework that allows you to carry out this rewarding profession safely and effectively.