Students from Cumberland University’s Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions gathered at the Tennessee State Capitol on April 5 to participate in the Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA) Legislative Summit. The annual Summit provides a “live” look at some of the bills before this year’s Tennessee legislature that would affect the practice of nursing and/or the health of Tennesseans. Cumberland’s 43 senior nursing students were among more than 1,000 nursing students from across the state of Tennessee meeting in Nashville.
The students heard a very enlightening description of the process of a bill progressing from sponsor, to committees, and to a vote in both houses. House Speaker Beth Harwell welcomed the students to their “day on the hill.” Former state Sen. Rosalind Kurita from Montgomery County gave an inspiring call to be a part of the process and “change things that need to be changed.” The most impassioned part of the program was from a panel of grassroots movement nurses. One of the panel speakers, Margie Gale, described the long process of developing legislation to prevent workplace violence toward health care workers. It was through the active participation of nurses across the state that Tennessee became one of 32 states making it a felony to assault a health care worker. Everyone who spoke that day to the upcoming registered nurses in the audience emphasized how important it is to be a part of the complicated and sometimes frustrating legislative process because change is possible when voters speak up as a united group.