Nursing student from TCU advocates policy change in Washington
|Suzanne Staebler, a TCU student in the DNP program, met with Rep. Sam Johnson to discuss health care policy.|
Fort Worth, TX
By: Dessa Lambert, Schieffer School of Journalism
A student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at TCU spoke with several legislative staff members this week about health care policy at the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI). TCU student Suzanne Staebler is also an advanced practice nurse clinical specialist in neonatal services at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, Texas.
The Nursing Organizations Alliance hosted NIWI March 14-17 in Washington D.C. Staebler was asked to represent the National Association of Neonatal Nurses and the National Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners. NIWI is open to any nurse interested in learning about the legislative process. Its main purpose is to mentor and train nurses across specialties to play active roles in affecting change in policy.
Dr. Kathy Baker, director of the DNP program at TCU, said programs like NIWI “allow legislators to see how knowledgeable nurses are and what they are capable of.”
Before NIWI, Staebler said she was most excited about the opportunity to meet face to face with Texas representatives.
“Most legislators don’t have a health care background and most Americans only know what the press tells them,” Staebler said. She explained this is why nurses are the best advocates for the people of the community.
The current health care system is extremely complex. Staebler said, “What most providers fear will happen is that the system will implode. Writing it out on paper doesn’t mean implementation can safely happen.”
Staebler met with the staffs of both Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. She also met personally with Rep. Sam Johnson. Because of the financial perspective of the health care reform in progress, no one was able to make any promises. Staebler said she understands it is difficult for representatives to make a commitment while the health care reform bill is still being decided. She plans to follow up with them after Easter break.
Staebler said the biggest accomplishment for NIWI this year was helping legislators refocus on fundamental health care issues such as the nursing shortage. At the current rate, there will be a 40 percent nursing vacancy by 2020.
Staebler said NIWI was the experience of a lifetime and her next step will be to make appointments with state representatives. She eventually hopes to be a person that representatives will pick up the phone and call when they are evaluating health care change and policy.