ANNA member David Walz participated in the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) program in Washington, DC, March 30 through April 1, 2014. Sponsored by the Nursing Organizations Alliance, the NIWI program provides nurses the opportunity to learn how to influence health care through the legislative and regulatory processes. Participants learn from health policy experts and government officials, network with other nurses, and visit members of Congress. Read below to learn more about his NIWI experience.
After attending the NIWI event in Washington DC, I realized that a strong nurse presence and voice at Capitol Hill is important for three particular reasons; honesty, relationships, and collaboration. This event excited me even more about our government system, and I plan to make this year’s KDAE Week even more spectacular!
First, Congressional legislators appreciate what nurses say because we are honest and tell them the facts about what is going on in our profession and communities. Second, I built some new relationships with other nursing groups. These relationships are important for NIWI itself and now that I have returned to Minnesota, I am able to bounce ideas off other members related to public policy. Lastly, it was good to hear of some of their issues and yet to collaborate on the three that are high on everyone’s list so we present a single voice on these issues.
I will put what I have learned into action after attending NIWI in the following ways:
- First, this experience helped me to better plan the ANNA Health Policy Workshop next year in Washington DC.
- Second, I was able to ask all three of my legislators to KDAE Week in August! Michelle Bachmann (R-MN-6) has already told me that she plans on attending; Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has it down with a good possibility; and Al Franken (D-MN) is undecided at this time. This week is important to ANNA and me to better educate the elected officials about nephrology-specific issues, meet with constituents, and tour the dialysis clinic.
- Third, relationships with U.S. legislators are important, and I believe that I have made a connection. I am now receiving emails and tweets from all three related to public policy, and I will continue to follow up, foster these relationships, and hopefully be a dialysis expert whom they will email or call when they have questions or want to ask someone for input. This will give ANNA another voice!
Overall, I think this was a great experience, and I plan to continue to stress the importance of public policy and the events that can foster learning, relationships, and moving ANNA forward. Thanks again for allowing me to attend, learn, and grow from these experiences.
David Walz, MBA, BSN, RN, CNN
Health Policy Committee Chairperson Designate
Greater Minnesota Chapter #329