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ANA Hill Day 2024: Nurses head to Capitol Hill in record numbers

Nearly 500 nurses, nursing students, and advocates from across the country gathered on June 27 in Washington, D.C. for the American Nurses Association (ANA) Hill Day, as they sought to bolster support for four priority federal health policy issues:

  • Restricting Mandatory Overtime for Nurses
  • Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act (H.R. 7002, S. 2815)
  • Improving Care and Access to Nurses (ICAN) Act (S. 2418, H.R. 2713)
  • Protect Timely Access to Quality Nursing Care in LTC Facilities

This advocacy day took place before the annual ANA Membership Assembly meeting, June 28-29.

ANA President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN welcomed attendees to a breakfast briefing before they headed to the Hill for more than 250 meetings with Congressional representatives and their staff. For the first time, 80 nursing students from local nursing schools, including Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University, joined in briefings and Capitol Hill visits.

“As nurses, we are the backbone of the healthcare system,” said Mensik Kennedy. “Our dedication, compassion, and expertise are what keep our communities healthy and safe. But we also know that the challenges nurses face day to day can be debilitating.”

Fireside chat

Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) joined Mensik Kennedy for a “fireside chat” conversation. Bonamici serves as a co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators dedicated to advancing policies to support the nation’s more than 5 million RNs.

“Tell your stories,” when meeting with Congressional representatives, she advised RNs. “Talking about policy in the abstract is not as meaningful as saying, ‘here’s a challenge that’s affecting my everyday life. Storytelling is important because it connects to the human experience.”

Afterwards, Mensik Kennedy presented Bonamici with a 2024 ANA President’s Award, which the Congresswoman accepted on behalf of the Congressional Nursing Caucus.

Bonamici_JMK_facing audience.jpg

The issues participants will advocate for during Hill Day “are not just policy matters,” said Mensik Kennedy. “They are the very foundation of our ability to provide high-quality care to our patients.”

Ready to go

Hill Day participants were energized by the morning speakers and ready to head to the Capitol advocate for the profession.

“Hill Day is a reminder that relationships are everything—they’re at the core of what nurses do,” said Heidi Sanborn, DNP, RN, CNE, president of the Arizona Nurses Association. “Building relationships with legislators is the only way we are going to improve the profession.”

“No one issue is most important because they’re interconnected,” said Nikule Abel, BSN, RN, director-at-large, recent graduate, ANA Board of Directors and director of the Minnesota Organization of Registered Nurses. Abel commented on the camaraderie of the event. “It’s a time to connect with legislators, but also a time to connect with like-minded people.”

About the issues

ANA endorses restricting mandatory overtime for nurses as one of several approaches to ensure a work environment that supports the recruitment and retention of nurses. The Nurse Overtime and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 7546/S. 3860) would restrict the use of mandatory overtime for nurses, while giving nurses the ability to voluntarily work overtime if desired. This bill would also provide whistleblower protections for nurses who advocate for safe working hours and conditions.

The Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act would establish a 5-year pilot program with the goal of increasing faculty at schools of nursing. Aside from getting more nurses into faculty roles, this legislation aims to use data from the proposed pilot to establish that paying nursing school faculty competitively will help reduce the faculty shortage and ease future nursing workforce challenges.

This bill is being led by Bonamici and Representatives Dave Joyce (OH-14), Lauren Underwood (D-IL), and Jen Kiggans (VA-02) and Senators Richard Durbin (IL) and Lisa Murkowski (AK).

ICAN promotes patient access to healthcare services delivered by the provider of their choice by removing outdated Medicare and Medicaid barriers on APRNs. The ICAN Act will permanently remove the barriers waived during the public health emergency.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently issued a LTC Staffing Final Rule that establishes minimum safe staffing standards and requires the presence of an RN 24/7 to ensure that residents have timely access to quality care provided by nurses.

ANA is urging Congress to ensure that vulnerable residents in LTC facilities can access timely, quality nursing care by rejecting efforts to overturn the LTC Staffing Final Rule.


What’s next

The 2024 ANA Membership Assembly, a meeting of the association’s governing and official voting body, begins Friday, June 28 to consider a range of key nursing issues, conduct the business of the association, and elect national leaders.

Stay up to date and join the conversation!

For news on ANA Membership Assembly and related activities, follow ANA on Facebook, Instagram, and X with #ANAHillDay2024.

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