Kristin Fitchpatric, a DNP student in the UTHSC College of Nursing, believes part of her job as a nurse is to stay up to date on health policy.
When she got the chance to apply to join a contingent from the UTHSC College of Nursing at the recent American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Health Policy Summit in Washington, she jumped at the opportunity.
Fitchpatric and Jennifer Patterson, a nursing PhD student, joined College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, at the 2019 summit.
“Every year, we have students apply for this opportunity,” Dean Likes said. “They are asked to write an essay about their experience in policy and how this experience would help them with their future career goals.”
The summit affords nursing leaders, educators, and students the opportunity to visit with policymakers and legislators. Senator Lamar Alexander attended a discussion, and the dean said the UTHSC students were able to speak to him about the contribution nurses make to the health of our communities and the need for continued funding for nursing education, clinical care, and research.
“Meeting the senator, along with the other professionals, truly gave me firsthand insight regarding the policy process,” Fitchpatric said.
“As a prudent nurse and health care advocate, I strive to remain up to date on current evidence-based practices and policy, as well as to collaborate with members of the community to identify gaps in access that when filled can improve overall patient outcomes,” she said. “Recognizing these challenges and being able to speak to them aids in the advancement of my nursing practice and will guide me in bridging the gap in health care disparities in underserved areas.”
Patterson said her dissertation focuses on the implications of health policy regarding stroke. “After attending the summit, I have a better understanding of health policy advocacy, how I may serve in an advocacy role, and how health policy relates to my discipline of study,” she said.
Dean Likes said she hopes the students find the experience inspiring. “It is such a pleasure to spend time with our students and share in this enlightening experience,” Dean Likes said. “I hope to see this experience inspire our students to be involved with the issues that impact our patients and health care. As members of the most-trusted profession, it is imperative for nurses to be involved in policy.”