1. Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC

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Q: As nurses, when we feel strongly about a practice issue, should we consider lobbying?

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A: The American Nurses Association (ANA) believes that it's our responsibility as nursing professionals to be involved in advocating for patient safety, care standards, and healthy work environments. The ANA is a strong voice for America's nurses and is among the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. Not alone in its fight for nursing quality and safety, the ANA is joined and supported by our professional organizations, state boards of nursing, and advocacy groups. These include the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the American Nurses Foundation.


Participating in your local, specialty, or state organizations can help you give voice to your concerns as an engaged professional. You have the ability to build, shape, and alter current laws, effectively changing legislation by joining forces with your peers. To simply complain about staffing ratios, the Affordable Care Act, and unhealthy work environments is just that-complaining. But by being involved, we have a large and potentially powerful voice for safety and quality when you consider that we're 3.6 million strong!


Our power as an educated workforce must be harnessed and used purposefully to effect change. The Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation understood this when they launched The Future of Nursing report. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go to Washington and lobby; it means advocating at the organizational, state, or federal level. Stay abreast of what's going on in your state and nationally, be an active participant in professional organizations, vote for legislators who share your healthcare policy and regulation views, and join internal committees where nurses at your facility review policies and procedures. You can make a difference.


If you decide to give lobbying a try, here are tips on how to lobby Congress from the American Academy of Ambulatory Nursing:


* "keep it short and to the point


* don't forget to say 'thank you'


* get to know the legislator's staff (It's frequently more productive to speak to a staff member than the lawmakers themselves.)


* tell the whole story by acknowledging when something is difficult and when there's opposition


* timing is everything (It's important to know Congressional procedures, so mention proper deadlines and don't ask for requests at the last minute.)


* have a one-page written draft of what you want available to leave or send to the legislator


* be professional even when the answer is 'no;' regroup and wait for another chance."





American Nurses Association. Policy and advocacy.


The Institute of Medicine. The future of nursing: leading change, advancing health.


Phillips RC. The ABCs of lobbying.