Jonas Scholars Attend the 2017 AACN Student Policy Summit (Part Two)

Today we are happy to share the experiences of two additional Jonas Scholars who attended the 2017 AACN Student Policy Summit in March. Below, Jonas Scholar Elizabeth Monsees, a year-two PhD student at the University of Missouri – Columbia, discusses what she took away from the conference:

“We had the privilege of listening to several nursing thought leaders on how we can advance our profession through advocacy. AACN and Legislative Directors from Polsinelli outlined how health policies are developed and approved. They helped to prepare us for the Capitol Hill visits, but more importantly, they taught us how to leverage our experiences and why communicating our stories or sharing our patients’ experiences can lend a much-needed perspective to inform decision-making at a national level.

Patricia Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research at National Institutes of Health, shared how nurses have a long history of lifelong learning and being able to share those findings through our research can influence and shape policy.  Our scope of practice is extensive, thus nursing research has multiple focus areas such as the promotion of interdisciplinary or team-based science and global health.  Dr. Grady reviewed findings from several NINR-funded nurse researchers and illustrated the importance of translating research to direct health outcomes.

The Capitol Hill visits were outstanding.  I had the opportunity to meet with counsel and legislative assistants from two members of Congress.  Our Missouri delegation had several Deans participate in the visit.  I was surprised and pleased how, as students, we were encouraged and expected to speak with our representatives.  In order to present a unified message, we discussed how funding for Title VIII is essential in ensuring and sustaining a strong workforce as well as supporting nursing research.

On our final day, the Honorable Alan D. Wheat delivered our closing ceremony.  I tremendously enjoyed his presentation, and given the response from the room, so did the other students.  I have a long list of notes from his presentation that I’d like to incorporate into my practice and advocacy work, but one I really want to close with is, ‘make the opportunity.’

As I reflected on how I want to message this work moving forward, nurses are inherently connectors.  We develop relationships throughout our operational, clinical or administrative work and as a result we strengthen healthcare systems because of our unique ability to connect people and ideas.  It was a privilege to have three days to fully immerse and have a shared learning experience with such a dynamic group of students.  I forged connections with students from across the country and I’m excited to hear about their continued contributions to our profession.  So the new challenge for me is, what opportunity will I make now?”

Kirsten Dickins, a PhD student in Nursing Science at Rush University, as well as a Family Nurse Practitioner with the Rush University College of Nursing, Office of Faculty Practice, commented that what she liked best about the conference was the overall feeling of inspiration and sense of collaboration, as well as the “chance to network and collaborate with other likeminded individuals for a valuable cause on behalf of nurses.”

(Pictured above: Kirsten Dickins (center) with Charlene Gamboa and Nadia Winston, fellow PhD students in Nursing Science at Rush University.)

We are thrilled to hear about the positive experience of these scholars and look forward to hearing more about the success of our alumni, as they attend conferences and impact the world.