Would welcome carreer/education advice


  • Specializes in Emergency. Has 18 years experience.

Thanks in advance for any input! I originally posted this in another forum related to Health Policy/Government Affairs, but I am not sure if that was the best place for the feedback I am seeking.

After 20 years of direct care nursing (18+ as and ER nurse and 1 ½ years in peri-op) I have decided what I want to do for the rest of my career - I would like to enter the arena of health policy/advocacy and government affairs. I am so excited to have come to this realization, and I am hoping that some of you might be able to provide me with guidance.

In 2008 I had returned to school. I dropped out in 2011, 10 credits shy of BSN completion mostly because I lost my motivation as Ididn't know what I wanted to do in the future (I was in a RN/MSN program). In December I re-enrolled with the intention of completing my MSN (Nurse Educator specialty), and then enrolling in a MPH program. I figured I might work one or two days a week teaching clinical at a community college while completing my MPH. I became aware of a joint MSN/MPH program that is located in the state where I reside, and I am now wondering if maybe it would be better to finish my BSN (I will be done this summer) and sacrifice the 9 graduate credits I have taken at my current school and enter the joint program.

My dream job would be to become the Director of Government Affairs for the ANA - but I realize that even if I were to be eligible for that role someday, it would be way, way, way in the future. In the interest of becoming more involved in health policy and government affairs now, I have joined the ANA and my state nurses association. I have also become involved with my local chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association (I had been a member of the ENA for a while, but never became involved) and I have joined one of their committees

So I would appreciate any input as to whether or not my educational objectives are appropriate for the type of career I would like to pursue - positions that come to mind would include lobbyist, legislative committee aide, nurse activist for a public or private organization, health policy advisor (or any similar positions that you might work in). Also, I would appreciate any information as to how you arrived at your career destination if you are currently working in these types of settings. And finally, if you have any ideas how I might be better prepared for a career in health policy or government affairs, I would love to hear them!

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

I am so glad that you are aiming for a career in public policy. We need more nurses involved at higher levels in order to improve the quality of health care legislation & policy! Kudos to you!

From an education pathway perspective, you need to do what makes sense to you.. what is the best fit for your own resources in terms of time & finances? I do agree that an MSN/MPH is the way to go. You will still be qualified to teach (MSN) if you need to earn some extra $.

I would encourage you to become active in your local SNA rather than ENA. ENA is a great organization, but ANA is our PAC and our voice in legislative matters. There are usually a lot of ways to get involved in your local chapter - volunteer to participate in the annual state lobbying activities - get your name on the ballot for an office, even as an alternate delegate to the ANA convention. It's usually not difficult if you volunteer to fund your own expenses to attend. Also, consider exploring opportunities with your state's Hospital Association. Many of them have volunteer opportunities that will get your foot in the door.

Start by educating yourself on issues that are important to you - develop your own 'positions' and make yourself heard. A colleague of mine (clinical instructor, now retired) started by contacting her state rep on any health care issue she felt strongly about. Her name became familiar & she was asked to serve on an advisory committee. Eventually, she was asked to serve on a (paid) state committee. Don't be afraid to make personal contact with your own politicos - state or national. If you know that there is an important issue being debated, contact the chair of the committee that is working on it. You can find all this information here U.S. Senate & The United States House of Representatives Â- House.gov

Lastly - based on personal knowledge - the MPH school you attend DOES make a difference. Our local School of Public Health is very well known. Students are involved in noteworthy projects and graduates are informed of job opportunities as a result of the strong professional network.


19 Posts

Specializes in Emergency. Has 18 years experience.

HouTx - thank you so much for your response! I agree, being more involved in my SNA makes a lot of sense, and I am working on finding a committee to join there - the ENA involvement is more from a level of personal interest - I want to remain current on issues and research related to emergency nursing.

I had never even thought about opportunites within my state hospital's association - I will certainly begin investigating that pathway as well.

As for MPH school - there is one here in NJ that is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), which is very important to me - I have heard that if your MPH is from a non CEPH accredited school it does not hold the same weight (job market wise) as a CEPH accredited one does. There is one CEPH accredited program here in NJ (a joint venture between Rutgers University and The University of Medicine and Dentistry) that I have inquired about - I can begin as soon as my BSN requirements are completed this summer. The joint program was basically two degrees done simultaneously, so there is really no need for me to switch MSN programs that I can see.

I really appreciate your thoughtful response :)