On March 16-17, 2010, seven UCF nursing students and their Student Nurses Association (SNA) advisor, Dr. Pamela Ark, attended the Florida Nurses Association (FNA) Lobby Days in Tallahassee, Fla. Members of SNA experienced first-hand the process of policy making through the state’s legislation.

This marks the second consecutive year SNA has participated in the FNA Lobby Days. Members of SNA proudly represented the field of nursing by actively lobbying for or against bills which affected nursing licenses and health care policies in the state. The students had the opportunity to witness the importance of policy and how the legislative process can impact their future as nurses.

“Lobby Days provides nursing students, registered nurses and nursing professionals an outlet and to our legislators. It’s important because it reminds legislators of their civil duty to the voters and the issues that their voters consider important,” said Allyson Weaver, a SNA Orlando board member. “I found it amazing that many of our congressmen and women were unaware about several pieces of nursing legislation brought before them by our lobbyists,” added Weaver.

SNA attended a luncheon that gave the nursing students direct contact with influential members in the government and in the nursing profession. The luncheon allowed SNA members to practice their networking skills with senators and representatives to understand the lawmaking process more clearly and to have any inquiries answered about specific bills.

Senior Laura Baker, a Student Government Association liaison at UCF, explained that when discussing issues with the legislators, SNA members had to be brief and present relative rationale behind why they were supporting certain legislation. Baker believes, “Effective communication is key to having a voice heard and we, as UCF nurses, portrayed a positive, active role as participants in the legislative process.”

Members of SNA who attended the FNA lobby days collectively expressed how beneficial their experience was at the conference. Many had limited understanding of the laws that affect their future as nurses and have now become aware of the importance in lobbying. SNA plans to participate in next year’s FNA Lobby Days to ensure their practice falls in the standard of care they want for nursing.

“Our experience at the conference made me realize how open and receptive our members of government are and how they actually read, listen and inquire further about the purpose of the bills in regards to the nursing profession,” said senior Carolyn Ward, president of the SNA Chapter at UCF Orlando. “I can’t wait to return to see the changes made from our involvement.”

Contributing writer: Kristin Soto, UCF College of Nursing communications intern