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PhD students visit Capitol Hill

Michelle McKay (left) and Brittany Stark, PhD students, visited Capitol Hill on March 21.


“A life changing experience,” is how Michelle McKay, MSN, RN, CCRN describes her recent participation, along with fellow PhD student Brittany Stark, MSN, RN,  in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Student Policy Summit held in Washington, D.C. Both women were on Capitol Hill on March 21st as part of the Summit. They are also Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars, funded by Independence Blue Cross Foundation.

The Summit is a three-day conference. Students are in didactic program sessions focused on the federal policy process and nursing’s role in professional advocacy. They also visit Senate and House offices on the Hill. “The Student Policy Summit opened my eyes to the power nurses hold in successfully influencing health policy,” notes Stark. McKay adds, “Nurses are essential to ensuring our patients have access to safe and high quality care.  As healthcare experts, nurses must use their collective voice to advocate for the needs of our patients to legislators in both local and federal government.”

Michelle McKay (left) and Brittany Stark, visited offices on Capitol Hill with alumna Dr. Andi Hollingsworth as part of the Summit program.

The students visited with staff in the offices of Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Rep. Pat Meehan, accompanied by alumna Dr. Andi Hollingsworth, dean of the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions at Gwynedd Mercy University. As an “AACN dean” she and other deans accompanied Summit students to the Hill. The Villanova students also visited with Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania’s 5th District along with students from Penn State University and Carslow University.

Students from Villanova, Penn State University and Carslow University visited with Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania’s 5th District.

The Summit affected both PhD students, members of our 12th class. McKay shares, “The focused health policy content and the emphasis on the nurse's role in advocating for our patients on the Hill has inspired me to become more involved in the policy process.”  Stark agrees, “I am inspired to join my nurse colleagues in advocating for our profession and for changes that must be made in health care to improve access and quality of care. I encourage all nursing students to find their voice and get involved in health policy.”