Over the past two weeks, nursing students traveled to the Capitol to attend MI Air MI Health’s Advocacy Training Days. More than 130 students from Michigan State University’s and the University of Michigan’s nursing programs came together to participate in the training activities. The purpose of the advocacy days is to teach future nurses about the strength of their voice and the importance of advocating for their patients well-being inside and outside of the clinical setting.
The training included background on the important role advocacy plays in public health and the role nurses can have in policy work. Students learned how to create testimony and practiced by drafting testimonials for issues related to asthma rates in Michigan, the connections between cancer and air pollution, and health disparities and social determinants of health. Health professionals also participated on a health policy and advocacy panel for the students.
Panelists included Ecology Center’s Health Outreach Coordinator, Mara Herman, MPH, Kindra Weid, RN, BSN, MPH from MI Air MI Health, Dawn Kettinger and Debra Nault, RN, MSN from the Michigan Nurses Association, Ken Fletcher from the American Lung Association in Michigan, Kathleen Slonager, RN, AE-C from Asthma and Allergy Foundation- MI Chapter, and Tina Reynolds from the Michigan Environmental Council. Panel participants discussed their professional backgrounds and how their experiences shaped their work in health advocacy. Panelists also answered questions from students and faculty pertaining to best practices when talking to elected officials and how students can get involved in advocacy work.
The days concluded with students attending meetings with state legislators, including Senate Energy and Technology Committee Members to discuss the negative health effects Michigan’s reliance on coal-fired power plants for energy production have. Students shared stories from their clinical experiences and treating patients suffering from respiratory issues. As future health professionals, the nursing students asked their elected officials to support stronger renewable energy and energy efficiency standards due to the health benefits they will have for Michigan residents.
Published on March 29, 2016