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Montgomery College Nursing Students and Faculty Learn about Political Advocacy

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Montgomery College Nursing Students and Faculty Learn about Political Advocacy

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Category: Community Engagement

Published: 2019-03-11 00:00:01.000

Montgomery College Nursing Students and Faculty Learn about Political Advocacy
By Yee (Karie) Cheung and Jamel Shemiyah

On Monday, January 18, 2019, four Montgomery College (MC) final-semester nursing students and several faculty members drove to Annapolis for Maryland Nurses Association (MNA) for Nurses' Night. Mary Kay DeMarco, PhD, RN, CNE, President of the MNA, gave welcoming remarks to a crowded hall of several hundred nurses and students to kick start a busy night of meetings with state legislators at the nearby Maryland Statehouse. Dr. DeMarco was followed by a list of other prominent names in the Maryland Nursing community, including Janet Haebler of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and Maryland State Senator Shirley Nathan-Pullman. Ms. Haebler explained some of the ANA position statements that would provide protections for nurses against workplace violence and advocate for pregnant women to bypass the open enrollment period of the insurance marketplace for obtaining immediate coverage. In addition, she offered a perspective on challenges faced by the ANA to lobby for such efforts. Senator Nathan-Pullman, herself a Registered Nurse, fired up constituents with a punch list of state bills, and equipped them with corresponding talking points before they headed off to their appointments with government representatives.

What did the evening mean to students like us? For one, it led to an appreciation for the work accomplished by both ANA and MNA. We had only a basic knowledge of the organizations from what we learned in class, which did not quite convey the complexity of the lobbying process. We witnessed the passion that each participant brought to advocate for what they believed. That passion caught on to us, as one MC student could not contain the urge to pull out his phone in the midst of a presentation to look up the names of his representatives--thus accomplishing "Step One" of political action. The second step, as we learned, is making contact with our respective representatives to share our stories and experiences as nurses. Echoed from the multiple motivational comments, one presenter shared that "lawmakers need to be aware of our stories and what we witness." The courage that nurses have developed in confronting difficult situations serves them well in the political arena to both face lawmakers and tell compelling stories.

Attending Nurses' Night provided MC students a wider perspective of what a Registered Nurse can accomplish. Student and attendee Karie Cheung reflected by saying, "Hearing from Senator Shirley Nathan-Pullman and how nurses can make a huge difference in politics has inspired me to be more aware and engaged on the process of change. Senator Nathan-Pullman's push for more Registered Nurses to bring their knowledge to the table has inspired me to be a more proactive nurse." The event in our state's capital provided not only a great learning opportunity, but also a spark for political activism to promote the beliefs and values that nurses hold. Many nurses were present that evening from different units and geographical locations, and they all came with different stories to share. Despite all differences, the aura of change was a uniting force, that made us feel as if we were already part of a great profession.

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