The 2018 American Nurses Association (ANA) Hill Day started off strong on June 21 in Washington, DC, as ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, rallied nurses and other participants to use their collective power to create change.
At a breakfast briefing held before heading to Capitol Hill for 277 scheduled visits with members of Congress and staff, approximately 300 participants from 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, reviewed current legislative actions.
“Your passion and commitment are energizing and inspiring, and I am deeply grateful for your advocacy for your patients and the profession at the bedside and beyond,” said Cipriano as she welcomed participants. “Nurses know how to tell the story about key nursing issues, including the urgent need for safe staffing, workforce development funding, gun violence prevention, and opioid addiction treatment.”
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) then addressed the group about the critical role nurses play in both patient care and advocacy. “Nurses are the beating heart of our healthcare system,” Tonko said. “It is imperative that we craft public policy that supports nurses.”
He emphasized the importance of safe staffing, remarking that unreasonable staffing plans put patients and nurses at risk. “We need to make sure nurses have a seat at the table” when staffing decisions are made, he added.
Tonko is one of the lead sponsors of the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2017, which would make medically-assisted-treatment (MAT) prescribing authority for nurse practitioners and physician assistants permanent and extend this ability to certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse-midwives.
Tonko told participants to “storm the hill and don’t take no for an answer” to address the opioid crisis. “We must do a better job of preventing addiction and providing recovery treatment,” he said.
The following day, ANA and other nursing organizations were pleased with the passage of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), omnibus legislation that will extend prescribing authority to all advanced practice registered nurses to help combat the opioid epidemic.
Tonko, a champion of nurses, also expressed support for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act. “We must invest in and empower our nursing workforce,” he said.
Other messages for Hill Day participants to take to representatives included funding gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the CDC is no longer restricted from researching gun violence, currently no funding is allocated to study it.
In the wake of ANA’s statements on opposing the separation of migrant families and children, participants expressed their desire to discuss immigration issues during their Hill Day meetings, and were appreciative of ANA’s swift response to represent the voice of nursing.
Virtual Hill Day
For those not attending the event in Washington, Virtual Hill Day was an opportunity to amplify nurses’ voices. More than 700 messages were delivered via RNAction. org to members of Congress that focused on opioid legislation. A strong social media presence garnered more than 1.7 million impressions on Twitter alone.
ANA’s 2018 Year of Advocacy
Nurses using their collective voice to push for change is ANA’s Year of Advocacy in action. The theme for the third quarter is “Nurses Get Out the Vote,” empowering nurses everywhere to make their voices heard on both the local and national levels.
To stay up to date and take action, visit RNAction.org.