SANFORD — The impact of state legislation on health care in North Carolina was the topic of conversation as 25 Central Carolina Community College Associate Degree Nursing second-level students and two nursing instructors met recently with a number of state legislators.
The CCCC nursing instructors, Robin Gusmann and Linda Blair, and their students were in Raleigh March 8 for a conference and visit to the General Assembly during the N.C. Nurses Association Day at the Legislature.
“It is important for nurses to be aware of legislation in the state that will impact health care and our ability to provide safe, effective care to patients,” said Blair. “Nurses are under-represented in the state legislature, with one being a retired nurse. We wanted our students to become aware of the political concerns for nursing and health care.”
The CCCC nursing students had previously researched a House or Senate bill impacting nursing and health care in the state. The bills included topics such as keeping school nurses, funding the nursing scholars program, medical liability, closure of Dorothea Dix Hospital, and the lack of funding for immunization of school-age children.
The students, who were from Siler City, Broadway, Fayetteville, Cary and Smithfield, then wrote to their respective legislators requesting their support or, if appropriate, their non-support, of the bill and requesting to meet with the legislator. Of the 25 students, 24 were able to do so.
The CCCC students were part of a gathering of about 1,000 nursing students and faculty and representatives of the NCNA. They met at the Raleigh Convention Center for the conference and then walked the seven blocks to the legislature, where invited elected officials greeted them. The CCCC students were able to meet with Sen. Bob Atwater, D-Chapel Hill, and other legislators to share their concerns.
“I was very impressed with their advocacy and thought they were very conversant with the issues of the day,” Atwater said.
At the conference, the gathering of nurses and nursing students were welcomed by Ernest Grant, president of the NCNA, and heard a roundtable presentation on “How Politics Affects Healthcare and Your Profession” by Julie George, executive director of the N.C. Board of Nursing; Dr. Craigan Gray, director of the N.C. Division of Medical Assistance; Joy Reed, head of Public Health Nursing; and Joanne Stevens, NCNA lobbyist.
Secretary Lanier Cansler, of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, then addressed the group on “Public Policy and Healthcare in State Government.
The CCCC nursing students visit to the legislature was made possible by funding from the CCCC Foundation.