Advocacy for Vulnerable Populations by the Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)

Essay Instructions

Select and describe the key characteristics of one vulnerable population from your practice or locale and discuss why this population is considered vulnerable.

Include one or two health practices and beliefs of the chosen population that increases the vulnerability of the population.

Describe how you, in an advanced nursing role, could be an advocate for this vulnerable population at the local, state or national level.

Citations: At least one high-level scholarly reference in APA from within the last 5 years

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Sample Essay

Advocacy for Vulnerable Populations by the Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)

Obesity and overweight represent a public health problem that is costing money and lives at a large scale in the United States. Studies have shown that adolescents are most affected especially when marginalized, disadvantaged, and poor populations are put into consideration (Kornet-van der Aa et al., 2017). An evaluation of the social determinants of health (SDOH) of these adolescents reveals that low socioeconomic status, poor educational achievement, poor living conditions, and lack of proper access to quality healthcare are the major SDOH that define these poor populations affected (Powell, 2016). The purpose of this paper is to describe a vulnerable population affected by overweight and obesity in the United States.

The Vulnerable Population and Its Characteristics

One of the most vulnerable populations affected by overweight and obesity in the US is that of adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds. The most significant defining characteristic of this population is that they are from families that have low incomes. For this reason, the purchasing power of these families is low and they cannot afford proper diets that contain sufficient amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. This population is also defined by poor educational achievement on the side of the parents and guardians. For this reason, they cannot fathom the significance of proper diet and the danger of junk processed foods. The adolescents consume large amounts of cheap sugary sweetened beverages that contain a lot of extra calories. In the end, they develop obesity during the adolescent years that are defined by growth spurts. A particular practice that increases the vulnerability of this population demographic is the habit of staying indoors and watching television for hours on end. This means less exercise and a more sedentary lifestyle that also encourages the development of obesity and overweight.

The Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) in Advocacy for the Identified Vulnerable Population Demographic at the Local, State, and National Levels

The advanced practice nurse or APN is a clinician in her own right. By training, APNs such as family nurse practitioners (FNPs) assess, investigate, treat, and follow up patients across the lifespan. This is especially true for those that practice in states with full practice authority or FPA (Dillon & Gary, 2017). They are usually found at the grassroots level offering primary health care services to vulnerable populations. It is for this reason that the APN is better placed to be the foremost advocate for these patients in terms of favorable healthcare policy.

Local Level

At the local level, the APN can offer educational interventions after performing community diagnosis and coming up with the appropriate community diagnosis. In the case of adolescent overweight and obesity, the APN may have to go to schools within the County and teach adolescents about the importance of proper diet and exercise in the prevention of overweight and obesity (Hammer & McPhee, 2018). In this, they will have to engage local opinion leaders and partners such as faith-based organizations or FBOs.

State Level

At the state level, the APN may have to go further upwards in their patient advocacy quest to influence healthcare policy. One such action may involve lobbying state legislators to come up with laws that ban the sale and consumption of dangerous high-calorie sugary sweetened beverages such as soda (Kennedy, 2016). This may involve deterrents such as punitive taxes or express laws prohibiting the addition of large amounts of sugar to beverages. Alternatively, the APN may also seek elective office as a legislator so that they may influence policy on the legislative table (Mason et al., 2016; Milstead & Short, 2019).

National Level

At the national level, legislators can also be lobbied for favorable laws. However, this may require the APN to seek a leadership position in their professional nursing organization such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners or AANP. This will enable them to lead a united front of nurse advocates under the umbrella body of the association to push the administration of the day to come up with favorable healthcare policies (Mason et al., 2016; Milstead & Short, 2019).


The APN has a significant advocacy role to play from the grassroots level all the way up to the federal level. This advocacy is directed at helping vulnerable populations such as adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds.



Dillon, D. & Gary, F. (2017). Full practice authority for nurse practitioners. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 41(1), 86-93.

Hammer, D.G., & McPhee, S.J. (Eds). (2018). Pathophysiology of disease: An introduction to clinical medicine, 8th ed. McGraw-Hill Education.

Kennedy, M. (June 16, 2016).  Philadelphia becomes the 1st major U.S. city to pass a tax on soda.  The Two-Way: Breaking News from NPR.

Kornet-van der Aa, D.A., Altenburg, T.M., van Randeraad-van der Zee, C.H. & Chinapaw, M.J.M. (2017). The effectiveness and promising strategies of obesity prevention and treatment programmes among adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 18(5).

Mason, D.J., Gardner, D.B., Outlaw, F.H., & O’Grady, E.T. (2016). Policy and politics in nursing and healthcare, 7th ed. Elsevier.

Milstead, J. & Short, N. (2019). Health policy and politics: a nurse’s guide, 6th ed. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Powell, D.L. (2016). Social determinants of health: Cultural competence is not enough. Creative Nursing, 24(1), 5-10.



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