Posted on Feb 27, 2018

Nursing Student Surveys Political Know-how at Legislative Conference

Nursing Student Surveys Political Know-how at Legislative Conference

Three USF College of Nursing students attended the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Health Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. last month.

The annual health policy meeting was a three-day session featuring panel discussions on relevant health care policy topics. On the final day, members visited Capitol Hill to lobby congressional leaders.

But just how well do those meet-ups with legislators translate into increased political knowledge and political involvement?

One College of Nursing student plans to find out.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student Crystal Williams spent part of the conference collecting data for her DNP project studying whether legislative meetings lead to an uptick in political awareness.

 “My project will investigate whether face-to-face meetings between nursing students and their house or senate representatives increases political astuteness,” said Williams, who is the president of the Doctoral Nursing Student Organization at the College of Nursing.

Williams asked conference participants to fill out a 40-question survey to gauge political astuteness.   The survey included topics about one’s political involvement, and questions ranged from subjects like voter registration to writing a letter to the editor. If attendees score higher on the survey after meeting with legislators, then that would show an increased level of political astuteness, she said.

Nearly 300 nurse practitioners planned to attend the conference, and Williams hopes to obtain the largest sampling as possible.

Williams is the first nursing doctoral student to initiate a scholarly project at an AANP health policy conference. She, along with fellow nursing students Michael Harrison and Monika Endredi, attended the conference with the help of a student government travel grant.

Williams said she chose this project because political advocacy plays a vital role in the nursing profession. She lived in Washington, D.C. for three years as a travel nurse and wants fellow nurses to know that legislative representatives are more accessible than one might think.

She hopes her project will go a long way in in helping understand and encourage political engagement.

“I’ve always really loved just encouraging people and engaging people,” Williams said. “It truly is empowering my peers. It frustrates me to know that nursing is the largest profession in health care, but that we, as a profession, aren’t as engaged and united as we could be.”

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing