WSU nursing students participated in Nurse Legislative Day in 2010.
More than 35 WSU College of Nursing students will be in Olympia Monday, Feb. 14, for annual Nurse Legislative Day, one of the largest events held at the Washington State Legislature.
“This is a great opportunity to learn how to advocate for their future profession and patients in Washington State,” said Lynnette Vehrs, nursing instructor at WSU Spokane and trip coordinator. “They will also have the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding nursing issues to state legislators.”
For the past several years, students from Spokane, Tri-Cities and Yakima have attended this event sponsored by the Washington State Nurse Association (WSNA). More than 750 nurses and nursing students participate.
The keynote speaker will be Gov. Christine Gregoire.
Top nursing issues for 2011:
Budget crisis: Social and health services, which constitute almost 30 percent of the budget, are the most vulnerable and likely places to cut. Much of the rest of the state budget ¬- such as K-12 basic education funding (constitutionally protected), pensions and debt service – is protected and cannot be cut.
Nursing education: Washington State Nurse Association (WSNA) supports legislation and budget allocations that maintain access to nursing education to meet the health needs of Washington.
Public health: Public health nurses and departments are the center of a quality health care system and the most cost effective system for disease prevention and health improvement. WSNA supports protection of funding for local public health capacity and dedicated revenue for public health and public health nursing.
Rest breaks: Ensuring that nurses receive full, uninterrupted rest and meal breaks is critical for nurses to maintain the alertness and focus required to provide safe and quality patient care.
Take back your meds: WSNA continues to support a safe state funded drug disposal program.
Toxic-free kids: Nurses are looking to protect children from toxic chemicals, including lead, phthalates and cadmium found in some toys and children’s products.
Vehrs said legislators welcome the opinion of nurses – the profession considered to be the most honest and ethical for the 11th year in a row, according to Gallup’s Honesty and Ethics survey.
Health industry leaders want more nurses to shape health policy due to their frontline perspective and lack of economic incentive or profit motive, she said. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine titled, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” emphasizes the need for nurses to be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.
There are six nurses among state legislators, Vehrs said.
With nurse shortages, it is an advantage to have legislators who understand the strategies needed to address recruitment and retention of nurses in Washington State, she said. They not only have raised awareness about nursing, but also have been champions for health care access and quality patient care.