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Health policy and advocacy embedded at every level of nursing education

Above: Graduate students meet with a representative from Senator Mark Warner’s office on Hill Day.

MSN students at the Russell Senate Building on Hill Day.

Civic engagement is emphasized across the undergraduate curriculum as it pertains to advocacy, ethics and legal issues in nursing practice. First, students are introduced to the role of the nurse as an advocate. Next, students explore ethical and legal issues, applying concepts to case studies. Finally, students participate in the Health Policy Summit to propose revisions to legislative bills, addressing ethical considerations while considering issues important to nursing. At the graduate level, students participate directly with state and federal policymakers in Richmond and Washington D.C.

Advocacy and Health Policy Highlights:

•All BSN students participate in the Health Policy Summit, where they work in interdisciplinary teams to develop solutions to issues affecting health. Each semester, 30 student groups collaborate to evaluate current bills before Congress related to primary, secondary or tertiary levels of opioid crisis prevention. The top three solutions are presented to legislators via a brief elevator speech. Students subsequently have an opportunity to dialogue with legislators to better understand historical context, and the strengths and weaknesses of their policy positions.

•At the RN-BSN level, students explore the legislative process by identifying a bill of interest, researching and providing an explanation of the bill and its history to their classmates. Students then draft a letter to their representative in support of the bill in an effort to bring attention to active health care related legislation.

BSN students work in interdisciplinary teams at the Health Policy Summit.

•At the graduate level, students engage in a “Hill Day,” visiting either the state capitol or national Capitol Hill to present select health care related legislation.

•All NP students participate in the VCNP conference (Virginia Council of NP’s), which is a state NP political advocacy organization. MSN Leadership students attend a Legislative Reception in Richmond, VA to speak to members of congress to discuss current bills.

•At the DNP level, students participate in the week-long Health Policy Institute immersing students into health policy organizations in Washington, DC. They are paired with policy makers at organizations such as the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the National Association of Home Health and Hospice and the Association of Public Health Innovation. They also spend time with legislators on Capitol Hill and attend congressional hearings.

DNP students at the Capital Building during the Health Policy Institute.
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