Title

Measuring the political pulse of the Mississippi nurse

Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Bonita Remert

Advisor Department

Nursing

Abstract

Healthcare in the United States is a highly volatile and fluid industry. Nursing has largely been on the sidelines of the healthcare debate as other healthcare professionals and political leaders have shaped health policy and nursing. Professional nurses have the unique skills, education, and training necessary for shaping and improving healthcare. In Mississippi and the United States, there is a critical need for nursing involvement in the process that forms healthcare policy. This study assessed the political activism of Mississippi nurses with regard to awareness and knowledge, the nurse's political activism socialization, the perception of Mississippi nurses regarding the power of this activism on their profession, and the participation of these Mississippi Nurses in the political process. The data from this study shows that 60% of Mississippi Registered Nurses believe that being politically active is an essential element of the nursing role. Ninety nine percent of Mississippi nurses recognize the need for improvements in the healthcare system in the United States. The registered nurses in Mississippi appear to be aware of who their state and federal Representatives and Senators are. Correlational statistics revealed a significant relationship between nurses who were politically active and who had politically active family, friends and co-workers compared to those who did not have politically active family friends and co-workers. Nurses who belong to the Mississippi Nurses Association were found to be more politically active than those who are not members of this organization. Finally, awareness, power, and social capital, which lead to political capital, seem to assist in establishing political activism among Mississippi registered nurses. However, in spite of the encouraging findings resulting from this study, nursing's presence is not realized in Jackson, Mississippi or Washington, D.C. Therefore, further studies utilizing a larger population covering a greater geographic area is necessary.