Toolkit Introduction

Since 1893, the National League for Nursing (NLN) has dedicated the organization and its membership to excellence in nursing. The NLN has been committed to and continues to deliver improved, enhanced, and expanded services to its members and to champion the pursuit of quality nursing education for all types of nursing education programs.

The impetus for quality nursing education has always resided in the mission, core values, and goals/objectives of the organization. However, woven implicitly into the fabric of excellence in nursing education has been the safe care of patients by competent, educated nurse graduates. To explicitly direct the work of the organization and its membership toward the end result of excellence in nursing education — patient care — the 2011 NLN Board of Governors recommended inclusion of the phrase "to advance the nation's health" in the organization's mission statement which now reads:

"The National League for Nursing promotes excellence in nursing education to build a strong and diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation's health."

The NLN has come to fully embrace the broad scope of its mission through the complex and adjoined issues of a strong and diverse nursing workforce and the impetus to advance the nation's health through public policy leadership. Therefore, the NLN Public Policy Committee is proud to introduce the Public Policy Advocacy Toolkit as an extension of the organization's initiatives to educate and engage nurse educators to influence the nation's health policies through individual, organizational, and educational/teaching opportunities.

The Public Policy Advocacy Toolkit has been designed to cover a wealth of issues such as social advocacy, understanding how the US government works, engaging in policy-making, developing government relations, and managing media campaigns. Underlying these topics is the understanding of the NLN's Public Policy Agenda and the development of the NLN's Strategic Plan, with special focus on access to quality health care for all; ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity; nurse workforce development; and addressing the nurse faculty shortage.

The Institute of Medicine's report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health (2011), in responding to the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), creates a distinct footprint for nursing well into the 21st century, where education and training, improved education systems, full partnership with all health care professionals, and effective workforce planning and policy-making are employed to improve the health and health care of all. However, in order for professional nurses to take the lead in policy-making and directing health care reform initiatives, they must be knowledgeable about government relations, engage in the development of policies with legislators, and develop the advocacy skills inherent in the future scope and role of nursing. The Public Policy Advocacy Toolkit is designed to guide nurses, nursing students, and nurse educators through myriad levels of government actions.