Public policy has a major impact on your practice and your patients. Advocacy is an expectation of the advanced practice nurse. Elected officials care about what their constituents have to say. To make a difference, you need to be informed and engaged. Contacting your legislator and discussing issues is an important attribute of nurse leaders. In your interactions with lawmakers you want to be positive and nonpartisan, personal, persistent, patient, focused on your message, and provide accurate information.
- Determine the issue or message (e.g., telehealth impact on your practice) you wish to discuss with your legislator(s). Resource: The American Nurses Association Federal Legislative Priorities for 2019.
- Identify your legislator and contact information from his or her website and/or search here.
- Choose one method of Advocacy: Face-to-Face or Letter/ Email.
Advocacy Option #1:
- Face-to-Face: Meet in person with a state or federal legislator or the legislator’s assistant/aide. The student may have to meet with the legislator’s assistant (especially if federal legislator) which is acceptable. Making an appointment might be time consuming (especially if federal legislator), so you will need to begin the appointment process early in course. Students in the same legislative district may go together.
- Once you have completed the visit, each student will write a summary (one-page) and thank-you note (even when the visit is conducted with other students).
- Summary may include: Was legislator/assistant: — knowledgeable about APN role and topic or at least willing to become informed? Was he or she willing to express support or opposition? Was he or she cordial or merely civil, helpful or confrontational, or informative about the political process?
- Post the summary and a copy of your thank you note (letter or email) in the D2L assignment link.
Advocacy Option #2:
- Letter or Email: The student must write three (3) letters or emails or a combination of letters/emails to their identified legislators (State and/or Federal). The letters/emails may be the same topic to three different legislators or three different topics to three different legislators. Legislators read correspondence, especially when it is personalized and clearly from a constituent. The following guidelines should be used when writing to your representative:
- Be brief (one page or less), and use your own words.
- Begin with the appropriate heading and address.
- Be specific: State the specific bill number and issue and state your opinion in the first sentence.
- Relate your experience with the issue. Use personal examples when possible. Your interest and concern about the issue is important.
- Ask the legislator to specifically commit to supporting or opposing the legislation you are writing about.
- Ask for specific reasons they are supporting or opposing the proposal.
- Sign and print your name and include your address and other contact information.
- If you have pertinent materials and/or editorials from local papers, include them.
- Cite any references at the end of the letter or email usingAPA format.
- Avoid form letters/emails if possible. If you are using a sample or form letter, be sure to adapt it, especially in the first sentence and paragraph. Legislators and their aides recognize form letters and are less likely to be influenced by them.
- Thank him or her for considering your opinion.
- Submit the three letters and/or emails in Word docs in the D2L assignment link along with a separate one-page reflection on your experience.
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