Insights from the capitol

Two from CWRU share takeaways from a national policy summit

In March, Takiyah Smith (NUR ’19), a Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice student, and Nikisha Bailey, DNP (NUR ’22), attended the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit, a two-day conference held in Washington, D.C., for nursing students of AACN member institutions.

Fresh from their experience, for which travel was supported through Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing Alumni Association’s Students, Alumni Growth, Education and Engagement Fund, Smith and Bailey shared their conference highlights. with Forefront.

The AACN Student Policy Summit is an excellent opportunity to learn more about advocacy and engage in the policy arena. [Though] we did not have the opportunity to engage with elected officials on the hill this year [due to COVID-19 and security precautions], the impactful speakers who presented made up for that deficit. It was terrific to see nurses who have made meaningful contributions locally and globally, proving that we are well-positioned to advocate on issues that matter to us and the communities we serve. In addition, I appreciated that a diverse student body was in attendance—from different backgrounds and at different points in their nursing journey. The ability to network with a diverse group of nursing peers and build my professional network was invaluable.

There was something for everyone to take away. I plan to apply for the student AACN policy internship this year to expand on some of the advocacy skills I have learned to engage in the policy process. I loved that we could engage with the speakers and AACN staff, who also have a wealth of knowledge and experience. I spoke with them regarding possibly offering a more extensive experience to nurses who are unfamiliar with the health policy arena, but who are passionate and committed to making a difference. We discussed developing a health policy fellowship program specifically for nurses who are minorities. I left the summit feeling so inspired and encouraged to make a difference.

—Nikisha Bailey, DNP (NUR ’22)

As a sexual assault nurse examiner in Ohio hospitals, I learned how to become a better advocate at the AACN conference. Throughout the conference, I learned how nursing is a career that can lead to other opportunities in nontraditional realms that need more of our voices. I have given proponent testimonies in the past for Ohio House Bill 3, making strangulation in domestic violence a felony in the state, and Ohio House Bill 390, requiring testing of rape kits for human trafficking victims.

As I continue these advocacy efforts, I will take what I learned on how to prepare testimonies better and develop a relationship with legislators. The power of a story can change the opinions of many. While statistics may be moving to some, stories of a nurse’s experience may be compelling for representatives and senators to push bills forward. The more nurses come together with a unified voice, the better we can help patients.

—Takiyah Smith (NUR ’19)

Insights from the capitol