AMSN Leaders Advocate Successfully on Capitol Hill

Four AMSN leaders recently joined more than 70 other nurses in Arlington, VA, to advocate for bills that influence nursing and health care policy.


Attending the NIWI conference (from left), Valarie Thomas,
Kimberly Johnson, Robin Hertel, and Terri Hinkley.

AMSN President-Elect Robin Hertel, MSN, RN, CMSRN; AMSN members Valarie Thomas, RN, CMSRN, and Kimberly Johnson, RN; and AMSN CEO Terri Hinkley, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRC, attended the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) on March 11-13, to meet with legislators and add their voices to a national effort supporting nursing.

The most sweeping measure being considered was the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (HR959/S1109), which provides loans, grants, and scholarships to prelicensure and graduate nursing students, faculty members, and nurses seeking advanced practice certification.

NIWI attendees advocated for passage of Title VIII and also asked legislators to approve funding through 2019. They requested an allocation of $244 million, which was unchanged from the last year’s funding for the bill.

Many Voices for Nursing

The nurses who attended the NIWI Conference were from a variety of backgrounds including acute care, research, education, and the corporate setting, as well as students. While the majority of these nurses represented their professional nursing organizations, there were several who attended on their own for the experience and opportunity to make a positive difference.

Collectively each of the nurses approached the Hill to advocate as a part of the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC). NCC is comprised of 58 professional nursing organizations and works to support and advance the practice of more than 4 million nurses across the nation.

Each of the sessions during the NIWI Conference addressed different components of advocacy, from the importance of grassroots activity in the local setting all the way up to the national stage. Useful tools and background information on the workings of government were also provided.

Aside from providing information on advocacy to help them prepare for meetings with legislators, the nurses in attendance had abundant opportunity to network with their nursing colleagues.

The Power of One

One of the key messages conveyed to nurses during the NIWI conference was the power every nurse has to advocate for our profession and our patients.

Advocacy involves making one’s voice heard through personal stories and examples about issues that affect our practice and the lives of our patients. It can be as simple as writing to your legislator, making a phone call, or posting about an issue on social media. It can be as involved as actively assisting policymakers to find specific solutions to persistent problems.

And They Succeeded

The cumulative efforts of many nurses speaking with one voice that day on the Capitol had a very positive impact. President Donald Trump signed the Omnibus Spending Bill on March 23, officially reauthorizing Title VIII and other crucial legislation related to nursing and health care.

The good news for nurses? Title VIII boosts funding to $249 million for nursing workforce programs and grants, including funding for advanced nursing education, education for clinical nurse leaders and all RN and graduate degree programs. An important note: That $249 million figure exceeded the amount asked for by nurses by approximately $5 million.

The measure also increases funds for the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) to $158 million (+$78 million).

Funding of these bills so crucial to nursing means the nursing workforce gets a boost, and nursing students and faculty members will have increased financial support in their efforts to make their lives, and the lives of their patients, better.

“When many nurses speak with a united message, Washington listens!” Hertel said

Nurses are also advocating for a separate bill, the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act (H.R.3692/S.2317), which would enable all advanced practice nurses with prescriptive authority the ability to treat patients who have opioid addictions. AMSN will keep members apprised of the status of this bill, as well as other legislation related to nursing.

AMSN Supports Members’ Legislative Goals

NIWI is an annual program supported by the Nursing Organization Alliance and NCC.

AMSN offers a NIWI Internship Grant every year to a member who is interested in learning more about making a positive impact on the profession and his or her own nursing practice. Valarie Thomas, who was one of the four advocates mentioned earlier, was the AMSN 2018 NIWI grant recipient. Members interested in the NIWI Internship Grant should look for notices beginning annually in August.

In addition, any AMSN member who would like to join AMSN’s legislative advocacy efforts can email the association at amsn-info@amsn.org.


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