I am currently in Washington D.C. for the AANP Health Policy Conference and I am learning a lot about the characteristics of being a change agent that I would like to share with everyone. We spent the day preparing for our future appointment to talk to our state representatives. The topic of discussion was to ask our state representatives to support full scope of practice for nurse practitioners in all states without physician supervision.
Former Congressman Alan Wheat D-MO and Kenny Hulshof R-MO were able to meet with us to help us to prepare to talk to our congressmen. It is important to understand that congressmen come from all different backgrounds. They may have no knowledge of what nurse practitioners do. They may not be aware that nurse practitioners have prescription authority or know all of the education and experience needed to earn our degree. Congressmen do not want to look at facts, evidence or statistics when you talk to them. They are moved by personal stories that are clearly relevant to why they need to vote on a bill or why they need to have a law amended. Alan Wheat stated, “Have 3-4 talking points prepared and repeat it three times.” It is important to know your congressman, find a common ground with them or their family, and talk to them in lay man terms and a personal voice about how the law is affecting patient care. Also, writing a one page e-mail to your congressman is more effective than writing 26 pages. You can use examples of other states that have passed similar laws that resulted in good outcomes to prove your point. Realize that you may not be able to sell your idea to everyone. Congressmen may hear arguments from other organizations that are equally persuasive. It would be a good idea to research the health care stance of other organizations that have already met with the congressmen to know what you are up against. Furthermore, Alan Wheat also advised us to, “Pretend that you are Jan Towers” when we talk to a congressman. Jan Towers has lobbied many years for the unrestricted scope of practice for nurse practitioners.
We also learned that 100% of congressmen have Twitter and Facebook so it is important to follow them, comment, like, and share the post or comment so that it can increase awareness of the profession and create a viral effect. Congressmen look at the number of comments on these social media sites to gauge how much people care about an issue.
Angela Goldman, former president of the AANP also emphasized the importance for us to introduce ourselves with Dr. in our title when we graduate to appreciate all the work that previous NPs have done to advance our profession. She states that it is not fair that one profession gets to claim the word doctor. Doctor is a degree that is earned. Physicians should be referred to as a physician, not a doctor. It will garner respect and also get you upgrades on your hotel room.
If I were going to talk to my congressmen about marijuana issues at the federal level, I would ask our congressmen to vote on a the new bill known as the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act to reclassify marijuana as a schedule II drug instead of a schedule I drug (Miller, 2015). This would help to alleviate the fear of recommending a federally illegal substance, allow marijuana to be sold in pharmacies, allow providers in the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to patients, and decrease barriers to research on marijuana.
Miller, J. (2015). Bill to legalize medical marijuana introduced in the house. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bill-to-legalize-medical-marijuana-introduced-in-the-house/