UW Nursing students advocate for population health in Washington

UW Nursing students advocate for population health in Washington2018 Nurse Legislative Day participants

More than 75 UW students championed nursing education, research and practice in the State of Washington as part of Nurse Legislative Day in Olympia on Jan. 22, 2018.

Nurse Legislative Day is the annual lobbying coordinated by the Washington State Nurses Association. Approximately 600 nurses and students from across the state met with state legislators to educate and help influence the state of nursing, healthcare and patient safety.

“The future of healthcare in this state rests heavily on nursing education,” said Dr. Azita Emami, executive dean of the UW School of Nursing. “As the largest educator of nurses in the state, UW plays a key role in educating the nurses who can make a significant healthcare difference throughout Washington. Legislator support of nursing education is an important contribution to the health of their constituents.”

Meeting with legislators is also an exciting opportunity for our students to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom about advocacy, policy making and the translation of policy to practice, Emami added.

“Healthcare is an issue for every one of the legislators’ constituents,” she said. “Working together, we can create a future in which Washington residents can enjoy better health, longer lives and greater quality of life throughout their lifespan.”

2018 Legislative priorities

The students, faculty and staff at the UW School of Nursing are working to find solutions to our state’s major challenges by:

  • Educating nurses to provide the highest quality, evidence-based care to all people
  • Ensuring all Washington residents have equitable access to healthcare
  • Establishing partnerships that result in evidence-based public policy and health in Washington

The UW School of Nursing will focus on a narrow, yet vital agenda in 2018 that will reinforce the University’s and School’s core public education mission and address the nursing shortage statewide. These include:

Simulation education: Simulation education is the only way we can grow our programs and ensure Washington has the highly qualified nurses it needs. Phase 1 of our new Simulation Center opened in Fall 2017 thanks to a $4.1 million investment by Washington legislators. Planning and fundraising for Phase 2 is underway.

Investments in nursing education like the Simulation Center are more than a financial allocation. They represent an investment in the health of our community. They ensure all Washington residents have access to the healthcare they need.

Nursing doctoral education: The solution to Washington’s and the nations’ nursing shortage has long been to simply educate more nurses. That soon could become impossible because of another critical, yet less discussed, nationwide shortage: nursing faculty.

The UW School of Nursing is one of only a few nursing schools in the state able to prepare nursing faculty. Our Ph.D. program – the oldest and top producing Ph.D. program in the state – prepares students to educate the future generation of nurses.

Nursing school doctoral programs, including ours, currently are not able to produce a large enough pool of potential nurse educators to meet demand. Through support of nursing education, you can ensure that we finally make headway on the critical shortage of nurses in Washington.

Public health funding: Every community deserves a strong public health infrastructure that is able to assure healthy living conditions and a safe environment for every resident. Unfortunately, budget cuts and inconsistent funding and approaches have left communities throughout Washington with fewer options for delivering prevention and health promotion services and staff to deliver them.

The UW School of Nursing, and other nursing research centers across the nation, have conducted numerous studies illuminating the important contribution of local prevention efforts in disease prevention and healthy communities. Adequate funding ensures our state can respond to emerging threats and keep our growing population safe and will result in stronger and healthier families and communities in Washington for years to come.

Access to mental health care: There is an opportunity to go from worst to first in mental health care in the state of Washington, particularly for the homeless and other under-served populations. The UW School of Nursing would like to be part of an innovative solution by increasing the production of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. These highly qualified specialists are better positioned than other healthcare professionals to provide an economical, practical, and sustained response to this healthcare crisis.

Demonstrating the utility of investing in educating nurse practitioners in order to address the mental health issues of homeless and other under-served people would provide a model for dealing with a problem that confronts communities nationwide.