- How did the leader get to a position to lobby at the state or federal level?
The selected leader for the interview was Cynthia Murray, a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN). Cynthia explained that she started her journey back in 2008 by becoming a member o AAACN and was later selected to be a member of the nominating committee. After demonstrating good leadership qualities, she received the AAACN administrative excellence award in 2021 which gave her a chance to be selected as a member of the board of directors.
- What education did that person need in order to lobby?
Lobbying and advocacy are familiar roles in nursing that require fundamental skills in matters of policy (Chiu et al., 2021). Many nurses interested in lobbying can build their careers by earning at least a Master’s or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Cynthia explained that her journey started as a registered nurse and later advanced to obtain a master’s and Ph.D. degree in leadership. She also passed the ANCC Nurse Executive Board Certification (NEA-BC) which allows many nurses to have a system-wide influence.
- How is the organization’s agenda developed?
AAACN is the association of professional nurses tasked with identifying ambulatory care practices to improve quality health care in the country. The organization’s agenda is developed through meetings that involve analyzing practices ad collecting views from its members (AAACN, n.d.). Every three years, the organization develops a strategic plan to guide AAACN’s goals. Additionally, the board allows direct contact with the members with information that can help improve nursing practice. The members later discuss matters at hand and select the most appropriate course.
- How is the political agenda of that organization established?
AAACN has a legislative team charged with determining the right political agenda to raise or support (AAACN, n.d.). Cynthia explained that the team reviews legislative information from external sources ad communicates pertinent information to its members. The members of the team review legislative initiatives related to nursing on an ongoing basis ad actively aligns with collaborations involving areas of research and education.
- Are some of the same bills on the agenda year after year?
Cynthia explained that some of the bills sponsored or supported by AAACN can remain on their agenda for years. In partnership with other members like the Nursing Community Coalition (NCC), the organization works directly with government agencies to support healthcare bills that can improve healthcare service delivery (AAACN, n.d.).
- Is there a particular time of year when members of the organization lobby their representatives?
There is no particular time of the year when members lobby their representatives. Cynthia explained that lobbying is an everyday task that involves bringing a unique perspective to healthcare issues. Although the timing is very important during this process, meeting legislators at their convenience improves the achievement of results (American Psychological Association (APA), 2017). Generally, the more contact that members make with the representatives, the more effective the process becomes.
- What does it take to get on a legislator’s schedule?
The members of Congress make time for meetings as part of their duties. Lobbying may require getting face-to-face meetings with legislators to raise concerns about healthcare issues and getting into their schedule may be difficult. The first step will always involve identifying a local office and scheduling a meeting (APA, 2017). Finding out when the legislator is available locally can also help to ease this process. Apart from scheduling a meeting physically, one can request for meeting online through the website or send an email. Following the request is important because of the numerous number of meetings scheduled and closely contacting office staff can help in organizing quick meetings.
- Did the leader meet with a legislator or one of the legislator’s staff?
Cynthia has met directly with legislators to discuss important matters concerning healthcare policy. She explained that her membership on the AAACN board makes it easy to schedule meetings and directly contact legislators. To plan for the meetings, the leader frequently uses the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 which connects one with their elected officials.
- What is the benefit of lobbying?
Lobbying involves the communication of views on local, state, or national policy issues to elected officials. This process ensures that one’s voice is heard and supported by leaders with the greatest influence to affect process change. One of the benefits of lobbying is that it helps leaders to protect the interests of their people (Chiu et al., 2021). Lobbying serves to represent the interests of the people and bring about change to improve health and safety. Apart from the general interests of the public, lobbying can serve to represent the interests of minorities. It can help to raise the voice of people who could otherwise be never heard.
- What does the leader recommend for nurses who would like to become involved?
Cynthia urges everyone who wants to be involved in lobbying to start now. She explained that nobody is going to look out for your interests and those of your patients unless one steps up. In her advice, Cynthia recommends contacting legislators directly and scheduling face-to-face meetings. Keeping the meetings short and straight to the point can increase the chances of being heard and maintaining professionalism is key during the process.
American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses. (n.d.). Board and governance: The governing body of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN) is the Board of Directors (BOD). https://www.aaacn.org/about/board-and-governance
American Psychological Association. (2017). Visiting a member of congress. https://www.apa.org/advocacy/guide/visit
Chiu, P., Cummings, G. G., Thorne, S., & Schick-Makaroff, K. (2021). Policy advocacy and nursing organizations: A scoping review. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 22(4), 276-296. https://doi.org/10.1177/15271544211050611
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