April 11, 2008

Nursing students take concerns to legislators

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On hand for the Tennessee Nurses Association Lobby Day were, from left: Laura Beth Brown, M.S.N., R.N., and Sharon Adkins, TNA president and executive director, respectively; Gov. Phil Bredesen; and state Commissioner of Health Susan Cooper. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Nursing students take concerns to legislators

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing students rallied state legislators at the 20th Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA) Lobby Day last week at War Memorial Plaza.

More than 170 students from the Vanderbilt program as well as VUSN's partnership programs with Lipscomb and Fisk Universities participated in the all-day event.

“A working democracy is about active engagement of its citizens,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen, in his welcoming remarks. “Tennesseans have a strong voice and caregivers need to make sure their voices are heard.”

Nearly 1,100 nursing students representing 20 schools of nursing attended.

The day started with roll call, in which one student from each school stood before the room full of students, faculty and elected officials to announce their school's chief concern about nurses and health care.

VUSN student Karen Kastler cited smoking and public health initiatives as a chief concern. LeAnn Maxwell, a Vanderbilt/Fisk student, announced that minority recruiting and eliminating health disparities should be a priority. Kristen Liddle, a Vanderbilt/Lipscomb student, wants legislators to focus on prescription drug coverage.

“In large part our legislators decide what nursing practice is, and we want to show our students that we make a difference by being active,” said Betsey Kennedy, M.S.N., instructor in Nursing, who organizes Vanderbilt's participation in the event each year.

Laura Beth Brown, M.S.N., R.N., president of Vanderbilt Home Care, is TNA president. Tennessee Commissioner of Health Susan Cooper and Tennessee Commissioner of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Virginia Trotter Betts — both former VUSN faculty members — discussed the state of health care issue in Tennessee with the group. Later in the day, students had a chance to visit their legislators to discuss nursing and health care concerns.