Five Reasons Health Professionals Should Care about State Health Policy

The Attentive Nurse by Jean Baptiste-Simeon Chardin

The Attentive Nurse by Jean Baptiste-Simeon Chardin c. 1738, from Nursing: the Finest Art

Life as a healthcare professional is based on certain ideals. Here I list five reasons professionals should care about state health policy.

Professionals act with good reasons

Few can be proud of a clinical decision based on “the state said so.”

On the contrary, professionals have reasons for care decisions grounded in knowledge, experience, and context. With these, we can meet our patient’s immediate, complex, and changing needs with the best results.

Professional, reasoned action has far-reaching implications for legal accountability. The buck stops with the decision-maker at the bedside because they have knowledge and authority. Take away the authority, accountability disappears.

Professionals are self-governing

Self-governance is first of all personal. We hold ourselves responsible for our own conduct towards patients, peers, and others. We also delegate governing to hospital disciplinary committees and state licensing boards, rather than going directly to the legal system. The tension between self-governance and external regulation is tight; as one increases, the other must decrease.

The Agnew Clinic, by Thomas Eakins 1898, from Nursing, the Finest Art

The Agnew Clinic, by Thomas Eakins 1898, from Nursing: the Finest Art

Professionals are self-educating

This truth has two levels. Self-education is an aspect of self-governance: professionals ensure they know their patients, and they maintain knowledge of their specialty  Both are key to quality care, professional competence, and accountability. Both require autonomy over their time and expertise.

More broadly, professional self-education transmits knowledge to the next generation of the profession. Who does the lion’s share of educating – practicing professionals, or classroom academics, and how? It’s an ongoing debate, tightly controlled by state legislation and regulation.

Professionals are altruistic for a reason

Altruism means putting patients first. It encompasses dedication, selflessness, a charitable attitude of genuine concern, wishing others well. This professional ideal comes in Christian roots of western healthcare.

Professionals are advocates

We take on all comers in advocating for our patients. We make the case for their best care to patients themselves, to other clinicians, families, billers, suppliers, third party payers, even to law enforcement.

We advocate, and we’re good at it.

We should also advocate for ourselves, our peers, and our patients against an increasingly broken system.
How much of our advocacy at work is necessary because we’ve failed to engage state health policy? The practical knowledge and professional ideals we take for granted are rare in Lansing.

After more than a century of state involvement, too many care decisions are based on “the state says” instead of sound clinical reasons.

Self-governance is crushed by time and compliance demands. Loss of professional autonomy drives moral injury, departure, and suicide, increasing Michigan shortages. The education debate is tightly controlled by state legislation and regulation, leveraged by the higher education lobby.

Bottom line:

All five characteristics of a health professional are undermined by our current system and state health policy trends.

State lawmakers churn out hundreds of new healthcare bills each year. When state decision-makers are informed only by industry and bureaucratic goals, health policy will serve their interests.Let's reason together

Here at Michigan Healthcare Freedom, we believe people have a right to know how state health policy impacts their lives. Engaging professionals, people, and state legislators is the best leverage point for health policy supporting these ideals. 

We are building the MHF Discussion Board to grow that conversation.

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P.S. Other reasons

There’s an alternative to maintaining professional self-governance. We could leave healthcare to robots, billers, state bureaucrats, and payer protocols.

Personally, with 45 nieces and nephews and three with little ones, I’d rather preserve the ideal of self-governing professionals for a few more generations.

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