Two nursing students attended the 2016 Student Policy Summit sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Jessica Keen and Brett Hearl, both adult-gerontology nurse practitioner students, attended the Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 19-21.
The summit provides baccalaureate and graduate nursing students the opportunity to participate in program sessions focused on the federal legislative process and nursing’s contributions to health care policy.
Pamela Gehrke, associate professor for the School of Nursing, explains why sending students to the AACN Student Policy Summit is important:
“The experience of learning about policy and politics with nursing students from other schools provides the boost of energy and passion needed for policy work–being surrounded with the collective ideas and affirmations of their peers helps launch our students into this ‘new’ world of policy and politic,” said Gehrke. “Guidance from AACN leaders, political speakers, and policy experts exposes them to critical information about federal policy and the national scope of influencing health decisions. The students we send [to the summit] bring back this enthusiasm and information to share with students in our programs.”
This year’s summit welcomed 199 students representing 113 schools in 37 states across the nation. The students heard from an array of nursing and healthcare policy experts, including Patricia Grady, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research and Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, US Deputy Surgeon General. Students also accompanied AACN member deans on 127 Congressional office visits to advocate for nursing education and research, as well as policies that would improve patient care through nursing practice.
“Having our students participate in the summit promotes our involvement as a member organization in AACN in the important area of policy education,” said Gehrke. “It confirms our commitment to policy and political education as part of undergraduate and graduate educational experience and prepares our students to see policy work as part of their professional responsibilities.”