Saturday March 17th 2018

Lobby day: nurses’ expertise valued in policy development

Members of the Registered Nurses Association in Michigan meet with State Sen. Pappageorge after discussing the expansion of Medicaid on advocacy day.

Advocacy is the cornerstone of nursing with descriptions of the nurse’s role depicted in the American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) foundational documents: the Code of Ethics for Nurses; Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice, and Nursing’s Social Policy Statement. And it’s not just advocating for patients, but also the profession. As the single largest group of health professionals (3.1 million), RNs are educated to practice within a holistic framework that places a major emphasis on advocacy. So nurses not only have the ability to be an incredible force by sheer numbers, but policymakers also rely upon nurses’ expertise.

West Virginia Nurses Association members gathered for Unity Day.

For more than a decade, nurses have outranked all other professions in Gallup’s annual honesty and ethics survey and are viewed as the most trusted profession. Yet in 2011, 1,500 opinion leaders polled reported that nurses should have more influence and impact in planning and managing policy development. It has been suggested that policy development has been nursing’s slowest area to advance; too often, it’s been nursing’s role to implement policy change, not set the direction.

Nearly 300 nurses and nursing students attended the Oregon Nurses Association’s 2013 Nurse Lobby Day in Salem to meet with legislators.

In spite of the suggestion that nurses are less influential in the policy world, ANA and its constituent and state nurses associations have a rich history in advocating for causes and policy change affecting nurses and patients. The associations also provide extensive support in grooming nurses for leading change in the political arena. Effective advocacy requires knowledge of the process, a relationship with policymakers, clarity of the issue and planning. It doesn’t hurt to inject a large dose of patience and perseverance. Four years ago, ANA launched a year-long mentored program, the American Nurses Advocacy Institute (ANAI). Twenty four nurses are selected by their state nurses association to participate in this interactive program designed to grow their knowledge and engagement in the policy-making process.

Maryland Nurses Association President Neysa Earnst speaks at lobby night.

Each year, state nurses associations host legislative programs/lobby days during the legislative session for nurses and students. ANA representatives often speak at these events, providing a perspective of the national trend around nursing-related legislation and possible strategies. For the this year’s sessions, the ANA president, chief executive officer and government affairs staff  have participated in policy/legislative days in Arizona, Connecticut, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. This partnership lends strength to advancing nursing’s nationwide legislative agenda and voice.

— Janet Haebler is the associate director of state government affairs at ANA.

Nurses bring their causes to legislators

Around the country, ANA state nurses association members and students participated in advocacy activities to build relationships with policymakers and share their views.

Nurse practitioners led a group of 100 North Carolina Nurses Association members and nursing students in a meeting with lawmakers in Raleigh.
Iowa Nurses Association members and students participated in lobby day.
Robin Schaeffer, Amy Franciscus and Teri Wicker of the Arizona Nurses Association meet with Don Hughes, the governor’s health care policy advisor.
Nearly 1,000 attended the 2013 Georgia Nurses Association Legislative Day on Jan. 24.
Nebraska Nurses Association
A small group of the more than 1,100 attendees at TNA’s 2012 Legislative Summit, held at War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, TN. TNA’s next Legislative Summit will be held April 9. Visit for details.
State Senator Pappageorge takes group picture with RN-AIM members after discussion of postion on Medicaid Expansion with President RN-AIM, Susan Wozniak.
Nearly 300 nurses and nursing students attended ONA's 2013 Nurse Lobby Day in Salem on February 19, 2013 to discuss important health care issues with legislators and campaign for positive changes to nurse practitioner and physician assistant insurance reimbursements, how Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds are used, and safe nurse staffing issues.
Iowa Nurses Association participated in Lobby Day on Feb. 14.
Robin Schaeffer, AzNA ED, Don Hughes, Governor’s Healthcare Policy Advisor, Amy Franciscus, AzNA’s director of Governmental Affairs and Teri Wicker AzNA President after Mr. Hughes presented to the group.
Maryland Nurses Association’s 2013 Nurses Lobby Night which was held on Feb. 18 in Annapolis, MD.
A panoramic view of Nurse Practitioners and nursing students gathering at the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh for NCNA’s NP Advocacy Day.
Current MARN President, R. Gino Chisari facilitating group discussion at the Health Policy forum.
Diane Jeffery, MARN ED and Maura Flynn, Co-Chair of the MARN Health Policy Committee giving testimony at the MA State House.

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