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News: Press Release

2019 BLI Scholarship Recipients Reflect on Advocacy Days

Wednesday, April 24, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kaitlin Scarbary
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Left to right: Teresa Toledo, Noelle Jacobsen, Ann Pasquale, President Janegale Boyd, Isabel Francis, and Mark Roberts.

The Barbara Lumpkin Institute exists to educate nurses about public policy and to increase involvement by nurses in legislation action and advocacy. Every year, the institute awards scholarships to assist FNA Members in attending FNA Advocacy Days in Tallahassee.

This year's scholarship recipients were Isabel Francis, Noelle Jacobsen, Ann Pasquale, Mark Roberts, and Teri Toledo. Below, the scholarship recipients reflect on their experiences at 2019 FNA Advocacy Days.

 

    

Isabel Francis

Nurse, person, health, environment; these are the metaparadigms of nursing, the practice framework given to us by Florence Nightingale. They are not separate concepts, but integrated into a model of care in which each interacts with and affects the other. A person can be a single individual or a population, health a phenomenon defined by an individual or a group, and environment the immediate surroundings or the planet earth. As nurses, we are trained to advocate for our patients individually, but not necessarily for our profession, populations, health goals, or the environment. We need additional resources and mentoring in order to fully achieve our ethical obligation of advocacy as put forward in our Code of Nursing.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 178,000 RNs employed in the State of Florida. This compares with 83,000 physicians, 100,000 attorneys, 44,000 engineers and is roughly equivalent to the number of teachers (177,000).  In terms of political advocacy, nurses represent potentially the largest professional group in the State! But what we have in sheer numbers is hampered by our lack of training and in the political arena. If we are to fulfill our professional obligation and ensure that all nurses can practice to the full extent of their education and licensure, we must learn how to navigate the world of politics and take effective action.

The Florida Nurses Association offers all nurses the opportunity to develop their advocacy skills, including two intensive seminars – the Barbara Lumpkin Institute Advocacy Bootcamp and Advocacy Days at the State Capitol. I was fortunate to attend both this year, and thank the FNA for offering me a scholarship to the Advocacy Days in Tallahassee. My attendance at the Bootcamp prepared me to be more effective while in Tallahassee, as I had learned the importance of contacting my own Representative and Senator, and establishing a relationship.

The day prior to the official start of the FNA Advocacy Days, I met with Rep. Ray Rodrigues, the Chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee. I had researched a bill he authored, and offered my analysis and support. Knowing that I would like to support current legislative efforts to allow APRNs full practice, I also researched both state and local statistics regarding federally-designated Health Provider Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved areas (MU). Providing Rep. Rodrigues with information regarding HPSAs and MUs in his own constituency and statewide, we entered into a productive discussion regarding the positive impact that unfettered APRN practice could have for both. I offered to write a Letter to the Editor in support of his bill, and he asked me to come and testify before the legislature when the APRN bill came up for discussion. It was truly an honor to meet with him, and connect with this important person who holds significant power to impact the health of the State of Florida. I was able to obtain this meeting, speak intelligently with Rep. Rodrigues, and write an effective Letter to the Editor because of the training I had received at the BLI Bootcamp.

Establishing a relationship with your representatives is not hard to do! Rep. Rodrigues remarked that it was, “nice to speak with a constituent for a change”. Our legislators want to hear from us. We can send an email, pick up the phone, go to their office and meet with staff, or make the drive to Tallahassee to demonstrate our commitment to our profession and the health of our population. I had a wonderful time there, and cannot encourage my colleagues enough to take advantage of the excellent opportunities that the FNA offers to assist nurses in becoming involved in public policy, positively impacting our profession, patients, and planet. 

 

 

Mark Roberts

This opportunity was afforded to me as I was one of the 2019 BLI scholarship awardees. Attending Advocacy Days in Tallahassee on March 13-14 was an extremely rewarding experience.  Living in South Florida, we often hear about the legislative process, the Florida house and the senate.  However, we rarely ever get exposed to the process and witnessing the legislative process and discussions regarding decisions to be made.  While attending Advocacy Days, we were able to visit the state capitol and see our elected official at work as bills were passed that eventually became law.  We were right there in chambers when CS/HB 7015 regarding the medical use of marijuana was passed.  Learning how an idea, problem or concern can become a bill and then eventually law was an educational experience that no classroom can deliver.  This firsthand experience can only be achieved by attending and participating in events such as the FNA Advocacy Days.  The ability to network with other nurses who are in academia and from all the different nursing disciplines and get their perspectives on the issues that are currently affecting nurses and our practice, solidifies our efforts as a unified force. Being able to meet with our district representatives and legislators and sit and explain to them our roles and the challenges we face every day, as we care for our clients in various capacities and institution, gives them a personal account of the need for any proposed change.  Advocacy Days gave us the opportunity for our voices to be heard, and to let our politicians aware of the voting power of nurses to effect change.  This is definitely an experience I would encourage every nurse to do or to become a part of, for at least once within their nursing career. 

 

Teri Toledo

Attending this year’s advocacy days in Tallahassee, Florida has been an eye-opening experience. As I learned the process of getting a bill passed and speaking to representatives and staff, I was able to finally grasp how important our Florida Nurses Association is to the progress of health care and treatment in our state. There is so much work to be done, it would be nearly impossible for one person to create the change we need, but together through the FNA our voices are stronger. They can ignore one person, but they cannot ignore 325 thousand of us. In membership of this association you not only advocate for the profession but also for a better tomorrow.


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