Robin's Nest - AMSN President's Message, August 2019

  • Posted on: 13 August 2019
  • By: AMSN

I recently reflected on the amazing journey I’ve experienced throughout my nursing career. One of the many highlights was my experience as a participant in the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) program sponsored by the Nursing Organizations Alliance.

Each year, nurses from many different areas of practice, education levels and from throughout the country converge in Washington, D.C. to learn about advocacy and the legislative process. Initiatives related to nursing and healthcare are a key component of the discussions. The pinnacle of the experience is the opportunity to interact with the legislators from your own state in one-on-one discussions.

I spoke with my legislators about Title VIII funding and the opioid crisis. I have to admit, I was quite nervous at the thought of speaking to these legislators; after all I thought, I’m just one person with no real clout and nothing to offer that the legislators would be interested in. I confess I was also a bit cynical. My news feeds are filled daily with negativity and identity politics that convinced me that they wouldn’t even care about the topics of importance to me. How wrong I was! I shared stories from my own experience regarding how each of these topics impacted my practice and me personally. Both the senator and the representative were very interested in my perspective and we had wonderful conversations. I left those meetings feeling as if I had made a positive impact.

There’s also something special about being in the nation’s capital. It has so much history and so many wonderful sites to visit. One of my favorite places was the Vietnam Women’s Memorial which depicts the dedication, compassion, and fortitude of the women serving in the war, many of whom were nurses. These women had important roles in the conflict and met the challenges they faced head on.

Nurses today also have important roles in the many challenges we encounter including workplace violence, staffing issues, gender inequality, social inequity, and the high cost of medications which places our patients in situations in which they have to choose between feeding themselves or their family and purchasing medications needed to survive. We can choose to share our stories and use our collaborative voices to tackle the many issues we face.

Participation in NIWI was truly a wonderful experience and the knowledge I gained as a result of the internship is empowering. I am prepared to continue to advocate on issues that are important to me as a nurse and a citizen. I know that grass roots efforts can make a big difference and I remain involved, using the tools learned to make my voice heard.

Students and registered nurses are eligible to participate in NIWI. AMSN is proud to sponsor a member’s attendance at NIWI each year. The application for a scholarship will open soon. Please look for an announcement and consider how this experience can impact your own professional journey. It may very well lead you to places and opportunities you have never imagined.

Visit here to find out more about NIWI: https://www.amsn.org/practice-resources/legislative/nurse-washington-int...

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The Building of a Legislative Program

Robin’s column this month speaks to the critical role nurses play in legislation impacting health care access and cost, the workplace, and workforce issues. For many years AMSN has had a legislative team of volunteers addressing legislative issues of importance to medical-surgical nurses. They’ve written position statements on topics relevant to med-surg nurses, they have signed on to letters from other nursing organizations and they tried to stay abreast of policy and legislative activities. During their annual strategic planning meeting in 2018, the Board of Directors discussed and embraced the critical role AMSN must play in advocating for medical-surgical nursing and their patients. Specific and actionable strategies were developed and we’re working diligently to deliver on these strategies and tactics.

The first step we took was to engage with a legislative expert with relevant health care/nursing knowledge. We were lucky to find Frank Purcell from Cardinal Waypoint to partner with. We sent out a call for volunteers to bolster the number of med-surg nurses that would be responsible for monitoring and addressing issues on behalf of AMSN. We surveyed you, our members, on the legislative issues of importance to you, and we built a legislative priority list based on your feedback. We conducted a two-day training program in DC for newly appointed legislative volunteers.

We have been building a program that allows AMSN to identify and respond to legislation at both the state and federal level. Our team of legislative advisors has grown to 31 individuals, who are monitoring activities in their assigned regions and bringing any relevant legislation back to the legislative team for discussion and action. We have a legislative team of 9 volunteers, chaired by Yalanda Comeaux, who meet regularly with our legislative consultant to address our legislative priorities.

As a result of this new structure and deliberate focus on AMSN’s advocacy strategy, AMSN was invited to speak at the kickoff to the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 initiative, where Linda Yoder, AMSN’s Immediate Past President was able to provide remarks. AMSN has had volunteers and/or staff attend each of the Future of Nursing Town Hall meetings in Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle and submit or present written statements. We have hosted a webinar on safe staffing, “Safe Staffing: Evidence, Issues, and Action for Med-Surg Nurses”, which is available as a recording in our online library, if you weren’t able to attend live and have another planned for November during Med-Surg Nurses Week. We have launched an online community in our AMSN Hub for members to hear about issues and news related to our advocacy efforts. Lastly, we have continued to notify membership about Title VIII funding and reauthorization legislation and recognition of the WWII-era Cadet Nurse Corps.

I hope this demonstrates our commitment to advocating for you and with you on issues of importance for med-surg nurses but also to educating you, our members, about the role you can play in legislative activities at your local, state and national level. Stay tuned, there are even more great things to come