Two nursing students from Kent State University recently attended the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit in Washington, DC to meet with legislators and learn about how to make a difference in the nursing profession. Jason Fisher, BSN, RN-BC, CCRN-CMC, MSN/FNP graduate student, and Suzanna Thiese, BSN student, were in attendance with more than 200 College of Nursing deans, undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level students from across the country.
The three day AACN conference hosted speakers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), AACN, and individuals with experience in policy involvement. As attendees, Fisher and Thiese were given the opportunity to learn about their peers’ goals and dreams for the nursing profession and delivery of healthcare.
The second day of the conference was spent at Capitol Hill, with activities focused on sharing concerns about policy issues and learning how to build a relationship with legislators. Fisher and Thiese were able to participate in meetings with the offices of Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman, and Congressman David Joyce. Recalling her experience at the conference, Thiese tells Kent.edu:
“We visited Capitol Hill at a unique time in healthcare. The healthcare proposal was being debated that week and the budget [would be] approved soon. We spoke with our Representatives and Senators about our concerns on both of these topics, and the next week the Healthcare Proposal was redacted. It was very empowering to feel like we were part of the influence that caused those events to take place.”
Attending the Student Policy Summit was a pivotal career experience for both Fisher and Thiese. Health policy is an intimidating topic, especially for those looking to make real changes. However, it helped make both students more aware of the policy challenges they will face as nursing professionals, inspiring them to get involved in any way they can and stay politically aware so that they can best advocate for their patients.