Nurses as Advocates - Nurses in Washington Internship

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Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Nurses are very influential, from elevator speeches to talking to legislators about issues important to nurses. Nurses are influencers.

It's very important that we as nurses know how to sell our product - the issue we want to be improved. NTI recently hosted a session on the Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy. It is an opportunity to be a change agent and initiate clinical practice improvement.'s Community Manager, Mary Watts, BSN, RN interviewed Sherley John, RN who worked on a CSI initiative at her hospital. This involved reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infection in an ICU setting.

Nurses in Washington Internship (NIWI)

When Ms. John completed her initial foray into being a change agent, she moved further and applied for a scholarship thru AACN for the Nurses in Washington Internship (NIWI). NIWI is a Nursing Organization Alliance (NOA) annual educational event.

The NIWI experience involves:

  • Advocacy 101/201 Breakout Sessions: Overview of Public Policy Process
  • Advocacy Training
  • Panel Session with Professional Nurse Advocates
  • Congressional Staff Panel Session
  • State Team Break Outs for Hill Preparation, including role-playing
  • Opportunity to meet with Representative and Senators on Capitol Hill
  • Networking with other nurses with similar clinical and political interests

This internship involves advocacy not only on the legislative level but also allows nurses to bring back information to empower them to change. Nurses always advocate for their patients. In order to be heard, we need to collaborate together. Ms. John was able to meet with her legislator in Washington to voice concerns of New York nurses where she lives and works. This is empowering and gives voice to nurses.

Internship objectives include:

  • Describe how nurses can be involved and influence policy at the local and national level.
  • Discuss how to work effectively with legislative staff to advance policy agendas.
  • Describe key steps to effect change in the legislative process.
  • Identify techniques to advance legislative issues at the grassroots level.
  • Identify legislative, political, and economic forces driving health care policy and delivery changes today.
  • Learn to schedule Capitol Hill meetings.

Ms. John found this to be very humbling especially regarding the influence of nurses that nurses had about a very personal experience. "Nurses are respected and trusted and it was a very good experience.”

Nurses are one of the most respected professions in the US and advocating for change is certainly attention-getting to legislators. The process to take part in the NIWI experience: NIWI is open to any RN or nursing student (all levels of education) that is interested in an orientation to the legislative process. There is not an application or acceptance process to attend NIWI and there are scholarships to assist with fees.

For more information about NIWI, click here.

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