From ‘just a nurse’ to ‘policy influencer’ – one nurses journey

Dr Claire Morley1

1Tasmanian Health Service, Hobart, Australia


The World Health Organisation’s Triple Impact Report highlighted that although by far the largest part of the professional health workforce, nurses are often undervalued, and their contribution underestimated. There is a global push for nurses to be more involved in influencing health policy. Many professional organisations have been working to change this narrative. This is not always easy to achieve, and some would say, not for the faint hearted.

Whilst undertaking my doctoral research, I unwittingly placed myself in the position of influencing policy on a statewide level. My research was an investigation into the factors driving emergency department presentations, so perhaps I should not have been surprised. Over the course of my study my research became relevant to ongoing issues within the local health service. This brought my work to the attention of state politicians, local health leaders and policy makers. This presentation will detail the pitfalls, perils, and positive impact my journey had on me personally, my image of myself as a healthcare professional and on the wider healthcare system.

The face of nursing is changing. As a professional body nurses are in a unique position in health care. We need to harness the power within to enable us to claim our seat at the decision-making table. Nobody is going to hand this to us. The road ahead may be long and hard, but the rewards will most definitely outweigh the effort. So, in the words of Dr Seuss – ‘open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts’!


Claire undertook her initial nurse training at Watford General Hospital in the UK (an NHS hospital trained nurse). She has worked across a range of clinical, education, research, and leadership roles.

Claire’s current role sees her working with staff across the system to develop the systems and processes required to enable a successful Pathway to Excellence designation – a designation awarded to organisations that provide positive practice environments for staff.

Claire’s passion lies in ensuring the voice of nurses and midwives in the Australian public healthcare system are included in all decisions that govern the care they provide.