School of Nursing students join national nursing advocacy effort

RU students and SON Director Tony Ramsey pose before the U.S. Capitol during their recent Capitol Hill visit as part of the annual meeting of the AACN
RU students and SON Director Tony Ramsey pose before the U.S. Capitol during their recent Capitol Hill visit as part of the annual meeting of the AACN Student Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.

Senior nursing majors Gary Cope and Thomas Hubbard joined School of Nursing Director Tony Ramsey for the three-day American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit March 20-22 in Washington, D.C.

At the event, Cope and Hubbard were trained in professional advocacy and then visited with Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith during a visit to Capitol Hill. They also visited with the health policy staff members for Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and a legislative aide to Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock.

“Sharing our perspectives on important issues in our industry was the highlight,” Cope said. “I felt that our legislative leaders took our concerns as students and future health care providers very seriously.”

Cope and Hubbard joined more than 200 fellow student representatives from all 50 states in the program that focused on the federal policy process and nursing's role in professional advocacy. They focused their advocacy on three issues pertaining to nursing and nursing education:

  • reauthorization of Title VIII funding, which underpins important nursing workforce development initiatives.
  • approval of the budget for the National Institute of Health, under which the National Institute of Nursing Research funding falls.
  • support for removing barriers to the range of practice by Advance Nurse Practitioners within the Veterans Administration.

Cope and Hubbard are both Veterans Affairs Learning Opportunity Residency (VALOR) program scholars and are completing residencies at the Salem Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SVAMC) and the Richmond Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The VALOR program provides students with experiential learning opportunities in all facets of health care for veterans. The VALOR program includes hands-on clinical skills training, exposure to interdisciplinary teams and rotation to different hospital units.

"Gary and Thomas were knowledgeable and enthusiastic," said Ramsey, a member of the AACN Government Affairs Committee, whose charge is to educate and advocate for nursing education, research and practice. "They offered a unique understanding of the profession and confidently shared the nurse's perspective on health care policy and improving patient outcomes at the highest levels."

AACN is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education and represents 750 member schools of nursing at public and private universities and senior colleges nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education; assists schools in implementing those standards; influences the nursing profession to improve health care; and promotes public support for professional nursing education, research and practice.

Mar 31, 2016