Why Registered Nurses Should Understand Health Care Law

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Registered nurses (RNs) follow standards of practice that are broadly accepted in the medical field. Many of these standards are dictated by law. Care provider organizations comply with these measures to ensure quality of care and positive treatment outcomes. In the medical field, these policies change over time as care providers discover new best practices and legislators enact new laws.

Many contributions to the current health care legal environment originate from input generated by hospital administrators, nursing educators and clinical professionals. Nursing standards of care are an integral part of medicine, because they highlight the importance of the nursing profession and serve as a guideline for delivering quality medical services.

The Importance of Nursing Standards in Health Care Law

Nursing standards are vital to the success of any care provider organization, because they establish professional expectations for nurses. Organizational policies and procedures guide nurses in proper protocols and provide them with a point of reference to judge themselves and their peers.

Standards of care also create service consistency throughout a given care provider organization. Most importantly, they provide nurses with information that allows them to deliver the best quality service possible and at the same time remain in compliance with health care laws.

The Impact of Registered Nurses on Service

Nearly 3 million registered nurses practice in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that nursing job openings will increase by 16 percent between 2014 and 2016. In part, the BLS attributes this to growth to the expanding senior population.

In addition to treating patients, care provider organizations need registered nurses to educate patients about wellness issues, while helping medical facilities remain in compliance with health care mandates. This will grow in importance as more consumers obtain health care coverage and many individuals who could not afford or did not have access to medical services will begin seeking treatments.

Why Pursue a Degree in Health Care Law?

Over time, nursing professionals may want more responsibility in the care provider setting. Health care law is a great learning avenue for registered nurses, because it creates opportunities for them to continue to promote wellness by advocating for patients in other capacities, if they so desire. These individuals might choose to work with associations that shape the health care environment. For practitioners who wish to continue their careers as RNs, the coursework positions graduates to serve as organizational leaders who help organizations ensure compliance with constantly evolving legal mandates.

There are many variables to assess when considering a graduate degree in health care law. Registered nurses who want to pursue training in health care law must think about how class work will fit with their career and personal lives. Additionally, the coursework required to earn a degree in health care law can prove just as challenging and stimulating as earning RN accreditation.

Opening a World of Opportunities

Nurses may choose to pursue graduate education in health care law for many reasons. An RN may have witnessed the events surrounding a health care related legal matter and wished that they possessed the knowledge to make a difference in that particular situation. Alternatively, health care law is an excellent option for nursing professionals who desire a career change in health care law administration and want to build on their current knowledge and experience in direct patient care.

Registered nurses, by nature of their work, rely on compassion, patience and communication skills when responding to patients who may suffer from anxiety or grief, or those who may show resistance to treatments. Everyday, they must explain diagnoses and treatments to consumers in plain, understandable language.

As the health care industry evolves, the changing of laws, new technologies, and increased financial pressures are dramatically reshaping the foundations of American health care. As more changes emerge, it’s beneficial for medical professionals, such as registered nurses, to understand the legal landscape of the health care industry. So they can continue to promote wellness and articulate the implications of new regulations and address compliance from a fresh, new perspective.

When RNs comply with standards of care, they insulate care provider organizations from costly malpractice suits and keep the costs of service from rising. Standards of care also protect RNs from direct culpability in the event of error or mortality events. Such concerns will grow in importance as care providers across the nation take on many new patients entering their Golden Years.

Learn More

To learn to speak the language of health law and distinguish your role as a leader with specialized health care compliance expertise, look to pursue a Master in Health Law and Policy from Hofstra Law.

Recommended Readings

Providing for People with Disability: A Major Public Health Issue
A Career Outlook in Health Law
Modern Policy Changes to Public Health Law