Students from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s BSN Nursing Program attended Nurse’s Day at the Capitol 2017 in Little Rock, recently. During their visit, they met with legislators, participated in committee meetings, and observed the House of Representatives in action. Barriers were broken between the legislators and nurses of Arkansas as our students began to realize the process and need to become politically active. In today’s rapidly changing environment, healthcare is a major topic. Students realized that in order to advocate for access to quality healthcare for all citizens, there is a need to become involved at the grassroots level and use their experience to help mold healthcare policies. The experience gave students an appreciation for the legislative process and the ability to make their voices as frontline healthcare workers resound throughout the great state of Arkansas.
UAPB Nursing Student Veronica Tensley stated, “I had a chance to meet with one of my legislators, Mark McElroy. We told him that we would appreciate his vote supporting nursing legislation. I also got a chance to hear my instructor (Ms. Sarah Bemis) speak for the nursing bill in the committee meeting. I could tell she was really passionate as she began to speak on the issue. It was a great experience listening to all the audience respectfully voice their opinions.”
“The day was full of excitement and networking,” UAPB Nursing Student Edwin Thompson said. “Throughout the day, I was able to meet a lot of executive nurses throughout the state. I was able to observe the process of passing a bill and how it is then presented to the House. I was also able to observe the meeting of the Public Health Committee, where several bills were proposed and amended.”
Thompson continued that he found it quite interesting how anyone could have a voice in the committee meeting. He was also able to meet local Senator Stephanie Flowers and District 17 Representative, Vivian Flowers.
“Before Nurse’s Day at the Capitol, I never knew any of my Senator or District Representatives. The legislators of the Public Health committee were very controversial, but they respectfully disagreed. It is essential that we, as nurses, stand up for our profession knowing we are the change that awaits,” Thompson said. “The bills that I took particular interest in were HB 171 and HB 1205 because of their impact on the CRNA’s profession. Being that my goal is to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), if these bills were to pass they would greatly affect the future of the CRNA profession. Overall, this day was enlightening to me because I never knew how easy it was to make your voice heard and have a voice.”
UAPB Nursing Student Candice Miles stated, “I learned how important it is that we know who our legislators are and where they stand on certain issues that are so important to our future as nurses, educators, and even students. I would love to encourage everyone in the community to go and sit for a committee meeting, if possible, because it is open to the public, and I feel that, it isn’t expressed enough in our community. We all would love for change to occur in our town, however, we fail to take the steps necessary for this change to occur. I would like to commend our Instructors, Mrs. Sarah Bemis and Ms. Nicole Bates, and our Director of Nursing Mrs. Diann Williams for allowing us the opportunity to show our support for the profession that we all feel so passionately about. It feels good to know that you have fought for what’s right, with a purpose.”
The event was sponsored by the Arkansas Nurses Association, Arkansas Nurses Political Action Committee, Arkansas State Board of Nursing, Arkansas School Nurses Association, Home Care Association of Arkansas, NE Arkansas Advanced Practice Association, AR Chapter of NAPNAP, AR Nurses Practitioners Association, Arkansas Center for Nursing Inc, and the University of AR-Monticello- Dept. of Nursing.
For more information about the Nursing Program at UAPB, contact Mrs. Diann Williams at email@example.com or (870) 575-7076.