School of Nursing students and faculty got a glimpse into what it’s like to be a lawmaker in the state of Maryland when they traveled to Annapolis on Feb. 20 for the School’s annual Advocacy Day. The group also promoted interprofessional collaboration among health care providers and discussed the prominent role that nurses play.
Approximately 20 students, accompanied by University President Jay A. Perman, MD; School of Nursing Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN; and several members of the faculty and staff, had the chance to meet members of the General Assembly, including School of Nursing alumnae Adelaide Eckardt, MS ’81, BSN ’78, and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, MAS, BSN ’80. Students were also able to shadow a legislator.
“You are a very diverse group of students and I think legislators appreciate professional diversity,” Perman said. “We want to let our legislators know the importance of health care delivery by a team. Let’s help them understand.”
Delegate Keith Haynes, JD, MPA, of Baltimore’s 44th district, said he understands the importance of collaborative efforts in health care and the role that nursing plays in the health care equation.
“As we look at the transformation of health care and the new initiatives coming from the federal level, it’s important that all health care providers are involved with patients. There has to be greater interaction between nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and physicians,” Haynes said. “In order to get a full diagnosis and proper care, all health care professionals need to be involved.”
Students accompanied legislators for about an hour while they met with constituents and listened to a variety of concerns.
“While it’s important that nurses have a voice in how health care is shaped, this experience made me want to hear more of what everyone has to say,” says Johnny Gayden, a nurse anesthesia master’s student. “In health care reform, everyone has to work together with the patient being the focus.”
Later, Kirschling was formally introduced to the House of Delegates and briefly spoke on the importance of a well-prepared nursing workforce.
“It’s truly an honor to serve the citizens of Maryland as the dean of the School of Nursing,” Kirschling said. “I hope that we can continue the long tradition of preparing well-educated nurses for all of the areas that you represent so they can receive high-quality health care.”
Students ended the day with a brief question-and-answer session with guest speakers.
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