Bull Nurses Tackle Tallahassee at USF Day at the Capitol
Eight College of Nursing students joined nearly 300 others from the USF System in a one-day trip to bring key issues to state legislators as part of the annual USF Day at the Capitol.
The small group traveled on Nov. 14 to Tallahassee where they attempted to persuade state lawmakers to back various initiatives important to the university and USF Health. The one-day excursion is an opportunity for students to learn about the legislative process and a chance for them to engage with elected officials.
Tina Fetalvo, president of the student council at the College of Nursing, said spending the day at the capitol was an invaluable experience. She said she learned a lot about how state government works and got a chance to advocate for more funding to address mental health issues on campus.
She said students were divided into smaller groups and assigned a legislator to present their key priorities. Fetalvo’s group planned on meeting with State Rep. Kathleen Peters, (R-Treasure Island), but was only able to speak with her legislative aide.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that the students get to have,” Fetalvo said. “It’s just a great way to start advocating. As nurses, we advocate a lot for our patients, and it was kind of putting what we need to do into practice.”
Fellow nursing student Jeanne Zamith, whose father is State Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), said she was honored to be chosen to speak about the need for additional state funding to complete the new USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute being built in downtown Tampa.
Of the $153 million estimated for the new building, around $110 million has been raised through state funding, another $20 million was donated in 2011 by philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani, with the remaining $21.3 million being sought during this legislative session.
“Our main initiative today was to fight for the $21.3 million that USF Health needs to complete the Morsani College of Medicine building,” Zamith said.
Zamith said since healthcare is moving towards an interdisciplinary type of care, the building allows students from the different colleges within USF Health to work right next to the state-of-the-art CAMLS simulation center and Tampa General Hospital.
“I believe we made a big impact today,” she said. “We let them know that we are USF, and we are an incredible school, and that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing