Did you know there are about 179,000 nurses in the state of Illinois, and one in 48 is registered to vote?
That is a significant portion of political power in the state of Illinois. These are just two interesting facts shared on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Legislative Night 2014 at the Jay Hoffmann Center at the N.O. Nelson Campus of Lewis and Clark Community College in Edwardsville.
About 177 nurses, student nurses and members of the public attended the event, sponsored by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, School of Nursing (SIUE) and Lewis and Clark Community College (LCCC), School of Nursing and the American Nurses Association of Illinois.
Nursing leadership speakers included Donna Meyer, MSN, RN: Dean of Health Sciences, Lewis and Clark Community College; Susan Swart, MSN, RN, CAE: Executive Director, ANA-Illinois; and Karen Kelly, EdD, RN, NEA-BC: Director Continuing Education and Associate Professor, SIUE School of Nursing. Major themes included:
• important leadership roles nurses play in our personal and professional lives
• how nurses can influence legislative and policy initiatives and nursing practice
• the Illinois Nursing Practice Act, which will expire “sundown” in 2017
• the essential need for nurses to be active in nursing policy development
• the commitment of regional educational institutions to the students and to one another
Guest speakers included state Reps. Jay Hoffmann for the 113th District, Charlie Meier for the 108th District, Daniel Beiser for the 111th District, and state Sen. Bill Haine for the 56th Senate District. All speakers shared continuing support for nurses and their increasingly complex role in health care and the community.
Political action by nurses requires a commitment to the process, and lobbying is an essential piece of the puzzle. Debbie Broadfield, of Capitol Edge Consulting, who represents the ANA-Illinois, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing and Illinois Association of Colleges of Nursing shared insight into the political process at the State Capitol Building and how she supports the role of nursing and nursing education in the state of Illinois.
Nurses in attendance will receive 1 1/2 continuing education contact hours to apply to their required 20 hours of continuing education mandated for licensure renewal every two years. So next time you talk to a nurse, thank them for their ongoing hard work at the bedside and beyond!