Nursing students meet with legislators for Nurses Day at the Capitol

Dr. Christine Schindler takes graduate students to Madison for day of political engagement

Students in the College of Nursing’s Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program traveled to Madison on Tuesday, Feb. 27 for WNA Nurses Day at the Capitol. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Nurses Association, the day brings hundreds of students to the state capitol to educate themselves about nursing policy issues and advocate for the profession in meetings with legislators.  

“Good nurses go beyond the bedside and place the practice of health care in a broader societal context,” says Dr. Christine Schindler, program director and clinical professor. “What goes on at the state house plays a crucial role in creating a healthy, equitable society, and nurses need to have a robust presence in that process.” 

Students spent the morning hearing from WNA speakers about how the lobbying process worked, the best ways to communicate with legislators and the WNA’s legislative priorities. After lunch, attendees met with legislators in groups, speaking to them about issues ranging from tax credits for nurse preceptors to expanding practice rights for advanced practice nurses.  

Arturo Gonzalez-Villarreal and Aleksija Berich both found the trip worthwhile. The two students met with legislators of both parties, including Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R – Muskego), who told the students he hopes to collaborate with them and health systems around the state on a bill to enhance protections against workplace violence toward nurses. 

“This was such an eye-opening trip because we didn’t have a ton of experience in working with government,” Berich said. “Policy is obviously incredibly important for the practice of nursing but I didn’t know anyone in politics that had a nursing background. It was great to meet people with that kind of expertise and have honest conversations with legislators. They learned from us and we learned from them.” 

“I’m not typically very involved with politics either,” Gonzalez-Villareal said. “One of the biggest barriers to changing that not knowing what you don’t know. Being a part of Nurses Day at the Capitol and talking to the people in charge of making policy made all this a little easier to grasp.” 

Participants who turned in a completed report of their meetings at a post-session debrief received an official WNA attendance certificate. Nine Marquette students earned this certificate.