Every membership group has an iteration of “Hill Day,” “Legislative Conference,” or “Fly-in” where its members come to Washington, DC, to speak directly to their members of Congress on issues of importance to the association. Hundreds of members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) will be on Capitol Hill on June 20 for our annual Hill Day. This is a powerful experience and, in many ways, the most basic form of the democratic process. These constituents have the ability to schedule a meeting with their elected representatives or their staffs to discuss issues of importance to them and the association.
Members of Congress will always feel the weight of an issue when the constituent is able to make a personal connection and being able to draw upon those stories is quite effective. For nurses, this might be an instance where you have encountered workplace violence or a lack of resources to effectively perform your job for example.
With the 116th Congress a quarter of the way into its session, it has already been bombarded with special interest groups seeking to meet with members of Congress and their office staffs. These groups have been introducing themselves to freshman members of Congress while solidifying previous relationships with the more experienced lawmakers.
It is truly an incredible experience for nurses and nurse advocates to head up to Capitol Hill for the first time – as well as for those more experienced participants. When a constituent advocates on behalf of a cause they believe in and are passionate about, it empowers them to become more engaged politically and professionally. It enables a person to tangibly connect with their history, with the policies they are fighting for, and allows them to fulfill their civic duty of participating in democracy. Advocating for a cause on Capitol Hill provides citizens the platform to provide critical feedback to a lawmaker and serves as a check on the legislative branch by those it represents.
It is an especially important time for nurses and nurse advocates to take their experience and insights to Capitol Hill. There are many pieces of legislation impacting nurses and their patients gaining momentum in Congress. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309), the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2019 (H.R. 2150), and the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 728) are all being discussed by over 400 nurses making their way to Capitol Hill this week. To read more on these pieces of legislation, please visit RNAction. Nurses and nurse advocates must speak in a clear, united voice because when nurses speak, Washington listens. And regardless of the issue our members are advocating for, or whether it is called a fly-in or Hill Day, when you are advocating on behalf of your profession on an issue you care about, it is a powerful feeling. This communication makes a real impact on members and their staffs. We are excited for ANA’s upcoming Hill Day and look forward to the feedback our members will share about their experiences.