Jefferson Nursing Faculty Leading, Shaping Public Policy in 2023
Early 2023 brought political changes across America. The new Congress sees divided political control of its two houses in Washington. Over in the tri-state area around Jefferson's campuses, Pennsylvania has a new governor, including many new faces in the legislative bodies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Advocates for positive change in the public policies governing both nursing and the healthcare field at large face new challenges in educating elected officials and pressing for action. Thanks to the growing presence of our nurse leaders across a range of professional organizations, Jefferson College of Nursing is poised to expand its already-influential role in policymaking. Here are a few examples:
- Associate Professor Janice Miller is currently busy serving on the Health Committee of new Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro's Transition Advisory Team.
- Assistant Professor Valerie Clary-Muronda serves on the New Jersey Board of Nursing.
- Assistant Professor Jacqueline Mainwaring is an APRN member of the Delaware Board of Nursing.
- Associate Professor and Associate Dean Jennifer Bellot is Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.
At the national level right now, there are only two nurses among the 435 members of the House of Representatives (down from five at one point). Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois, before going to Washington four years ago, worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure that it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri spent a decade serving her community as a nurse, ordained pastor, community organizer and childcare worker before being first elected in 2020.
In Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have four nurses in our legislature. Rep. Tarik Khan, a family nurse practitioner from Philadelphia County, was elected in November to represent Philadelphia County’s District 194 in the House. He joins Rep. Joanne Stehr, a home health care nurse who’s District 107 incorporates parts of Schuylkill and Northumberland counties, and Rep. Bridget M. Kosierowski, an RN who serves District 114 in Lackawanna County. In the state Senate, Sen. Maria Collett, an attorney who transitioned from a career in clinical nursing to a nurse educator, represents Montgomery County's District 12.
Nurses contribute a vital role in American healthcare. It is essential to have more nurses elected to the public offices that set healthcare policy. To achieve this, nurses at all levels must have the moral courage to act, in multiple ways:
- Stay informed on public policy issues affecting patients, their families and the profession through your professional organizations' advocacy sites and legislative committees.
- Make your voice heard by writing/calling your elected representatives on fundamental healthcare issues either in support or objection to their actions or legislation – put them on speed dial! Express your opinion to local papers, radio program call-in shows, and attend Capitol Hill Day sessions at the state or national level.
- Consider how you might serve in elected or appointed office (from school board to state legislative seat) or, short of that, become engaged with local and state political entities and elected officials. Ally yourself with other nurses doing the same.
Our profession interacts more often with patients and their families than any other in the health field. Our voices must be heard. Members of Jefferson College of Nursing are leading the way!