By Geri Katz
MNA Healthcare Reform Specialist
Among the group for today’s North Memorial Day on the Hill were two first-time attendees. Erica and Ayan had never been to the Capitol before, which allowed me to do my favorite part of my job: introduce nurses to their elected officials and start them on their journey as citizen lobbyists.
At this point in the legislative session, everything is moving quickly. Legislators are rushing to meet deadlines, and it can be hard to catch them. We were lucky to find both Erica and Ayan’s state representatives today (in addition to several others) and share with them what it’s like to be a bedside nurse at a Level I Trauma Center. Right out of the gate, Erica and Ayan were both great advocates for the nursing profession and patient safety.
They talked about what it’s like to be assaulted at work, and the need for more legislation to deter violence against healthcare workers. They discussed what it’s like to be short-staffed and put patients’ safety at risk. They talked to Republicans and Democrats, and found common ground with all of them because nursing issues are non-partisan. Everyone gets sick and needs a nurse’s care at some time in their life.
When nurses visit their elected officials, something great happens: they begin a relationship. Nurses are already the most trusted profession in the United States, and when they come to the Capitol, legislators listen. Most of the lawmakers don’t know a lot about nursing and look to trusted colleagues and friends for guidance on issues related to the practice of nursing. Ideally, the constituent-legislator relationship can turn into the nurse becoming a trusted advisor for the legislator. Sometimes, when a healthcare or nursing issue passes their desk, they will call that nurse to get his or her opinion.
How many more nurses are out there who haven’t met their elected officials yet? That’s a lot of untapped power out there! There are several weeks of the legislative session left, and several hospital Days on the Hill coming up. The Capitol can be a confusing place, so we do our best to make it as easy as possible to find your way around, meet legislators, and lobby them on nursing issues. Please join us if you can!
I am bringing 14 nursing students from MN West to Student Nurses Day on the Hill. Have appointments with Rod Hamilton and Bill Weber.
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We’re glad you’re coming with your students Deb! See you soon.
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