(Tri-Cities student Adam Halvorsen and Yakima student Teresa Gonzalez)
By Sarah Schaub
It was a big day in Olympia, Washington Tuesday where a record 102 Washington State University College of Nursing students from across the state attended the 35th annual Nurse Legislative Day.
“Nurse Legislative Day is really about advocating for the nursing profession and for the citizens of Washington State,” said Debbie Brinker, Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs & Community Engagement at WSU College of Nursing.
“Students are immersed in the legislative process. We come every year, and we look forward to having students understand more about advocacy, how to really craft messages, and speak with a collective voice,” she added.
Prior to attending, students conduct research on where their legislative district is, who their legislators are, and how to look up and learn about current bills. In addition, they go to their local legislators and find out how they’ve voted in the past on health-related issues and what committees they sit on.
Students from WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities, and Yakima participated. They attended the Washington State Nurses Association’s (WSNA) conference in the morning followed by keynote speaker Governor Jay Inslee. The day ended at the Capitol where they met with legislators to advocate for health-related issues.
One issue Abel Saba, a second-year nursing student from the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus, addressed was the need to improve the nurse to patient ratio in care settings.
“Sometimes nurses have 8-10 patients on the floor to take care of and we can burn out,” Abel explained. “It’s not good for nurses or for their patients, and we want legislators to help us improve this ratio,” he added.
Kay Olson, a WSU College of Nursing Tri-Cities instructor who attended with her students, feels this was an incredible opportunity.
“Students get to meet face-to-face with the people who make decisions that affect them personally, professionally, and the communities they live in,” said Kay. “It’s an extraordinary experience and I wish all students could go.”
Adam Halvorsen, the President of the Nursing Students of Washington State (NSWS), was one of her students that attended.
“The more voices we have the louder we are going to be, especially when talking to legislators,” Adam said.
“To say I am going to get involved after I become a nurse doesn’t cut it. If we can grow involvement in NSWS, we can make an impact on our communities and patients. The time is now,” he added.