OHSU StudentSpeak is pleased to share this guest post from two OHSU senior nursing students.
Spring break this year was a little cold (27 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact). However it was one of the most inspirational and rewarding breaks I’ve had in my long college career (8+ years). I traveled to Washington DC with my classmate Zee Bakhtiar to get a crash course in politics at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Student Policy Summit.
Here’s a “top 10” of what we learned…
10. Wear layers. The weather seems even more temperamental than Oregon.
9. Comfortable shoes are very important. We walked over 12,000 steps our lobbying day on Capitol Hill.
8. Be proactive. The nurses we met in high caliber positions in Washington, D.C, all got to where they are by paving their own trail. In order for nurses to have a seat at the table sometimes they need to squeeze their way in.
7. Know your representatives in congress. We can be a resource to them, they want to know what’s happening at home and they are super welcoming if you are in DC. Research your local, state, and federal legislators, study their voting history and see what position they hold on issues relevant to nursing. The #1 thing they care about is re-election, let them know you vote.
6. Read newspapers. Stay current, know what is happening politically around you. Staying current in healthcare policies and politics will help you inform our nursing colleagues when actions need to be taken.
5. Politics is a game and if we don’t play, we won’t stand a chance. Regardless of your level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the political structure in this country, we have to function within the limitations of the system.
4. Nurses are viewed as the most honest profession, and politicians are the least honest, they need us. We can use the public trust as a foundation to advocate for ourselves and our patients.
3. Join a professional nursing association (ANA, ONA… etc..etc..)
2. The U.S. is home to 3.1 million nurses, yet only 100,000 belong to the American Nurses Association. The American Nurses Association (ANA) advocates on nurses behalf, yet we are supporting the organization. If we all contributed and joined we could easily outspend the American Medical Association (AMA) in lobbying.
1. Vote. If you don’t play the game, you don’t get to complain.
About the Authors
Tiffany Allen is a senior nursing student on the Ashland Campus School of Nursing. She serves as the Ashland Student Nurses Association President and the Nursing Student Without Borders Co-Historian. Tiffany is passionate about learning and has focused her nursing education on older adults and heart failure. Tiffany lives in Talent, Ore.
Zaavosh (Zee) Bakhtiar is a senior nursing student attending the Ashland campus. His nursing interests are in critical care and he is doing his practicum in trauma intensive care. Aside from school Zee has a deep interest in physics, biological sciences, and philosophy. He also loves to run and snowboard.