American Association of Colleges of Nursing Student Policy Summit in Washington D.C.

Editor’s note: BSN student Hannah Jeong and DNP-Population Health student Jax Hermer attended the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Student Policy Summit, a three-day conference held in Washington, D.C. Students who attended Summit were immersed in didactic program sessions focused on the federal policy process and nursing’s role in professional advocacy. They accompanied Dean Azita Emami on visits to legislators in Washington, D.C.

From Jax Hermer:

March 27-28, 2018

D.C. is beautiful! Here are some words of wisdom from Alexis Bakos, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Acting Director, Division of Policy and Data Office of Minority Health:

“Get your doctorate, (although she’s preferential to the PhD) and do it right away. It opens doors, will get you invited to key policy decision-making meetings, legitimizes your presence, and gives you the research skills to read all the briefs. Participate in as many fellowships or internships as possible. Do as much as possible but make sure there’s a common thread thru it all.

L to R BSN student Hannah Jeong, DNP student Jax Hermer, Dean Azita Emami, Dean of Seattle University Kris Swanson, Dean of Heritage University Christina Nyariti

Let your faculty know where you want to go so they can help keep aware of opportunities for you. Let your them know if you’re struggling. A nurse’s job is advocating for the patient experience. “I let everyone know I’m a nurse so they know the smartest and most knowledgeable person in the room is a nurse,” said Bakos.

Some more things we learned this from this conference:

  • Nurses are the most trusted profession but are not trusted to influence healthcare reform because it’s often perceived that we’re not decisions-makers, not organized as a single voice, not in leadership, not generating revenue, and not focused on prevention.
  • We can dismantle these myths by speaking loudly to the issues and being visible as nurses in policy advocacy.

Some tips for policy advocacy:

  • Understand who sponsors a bill. Reach out to them.
  • Florence Nightingale was a pioneer not just for her nursing care but for advocating for social and health reform.
  • Use evidence.
  • Understand both sides of the argument.
  • Timing is key.
  • Numbers numb. Stories sell.
  • Short words win. Messages need to be succinct and powerful.
  • If you don’t repeat, you can’t compete.
  • Know who shares your concerns.

    Students Hannah Jeong and Jax Hermer

  • Submit letters of support to members of the committee or sub-committee reviewing the bill.
  • Be all in. Be passionate. But know what you’re willing to compromise on.
  • Show up on time.
  • Build relationships.
  • If you’re not seated at the table, you’re on the menu.
  • Humility is better than dishonesty.
  • Lastly, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know, let me get back to you.”