School of Nursing - Make a Gift

Archived News

Policy Is the Root of All Change: Undergraduate students advocate for better health care

Posted: Dec. 21, 2017

When is the best time to start making a difference in health policy and legislation? For Linda Yoo and Kelsey Mumford, the answer is right now while they’re still undergraduates.

Kelsey Mumford and Linda Yoo

Last spring the two traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Student Policy Summit, a three-day conference designed to immerse undergraduate and graduate student nurses in didactic program sessions focused on the federal policy process and nursing’s role in professional advocacy.

“At the policy summit, we were continuously reminded that advocacy is one of the professional responsibilities of a nurse,” said Linda, who is currently a senior in the UT Austin School of Nursing Honors Program. “By engaging and influencing health policy, nurses provide a new perspective and move legislation to change care at the bedside and all around the world. The policy summit was an eye-opening experience. I came to understand the great work that nurses have achieved and are continuing to do — and the work that is yet to be done.”

“The summit helped me to reaffirm my interest in health policy and identify how I can make a substantial impact in this area,” said Kelsey, a junior in the School of Nursing Honors Program. “I was able to hear from incredible speakers in the field who showed me how far-reaching health policy can be and how much of a difference it can make for thousands of people. This experience will surely be a cornerstone of my career.”

Linda and Kelsey were able to meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. They also heard from students and nursing school deans about their about current proposals that will one day affect the nursing field. During the summit, Kelsey received the 2017 Student Grassroots Ambassador Prize for her proposal to create an advocacy campaign in support of Texas House Bill 1938, which would make new Texas adult driver’s license recipients organ donors by default unless they opt out. Kelsey said the change will save lives.

“I learned that policy is the root of all change. Not only did I learn how to advocate for a policy agenda, but I was filled with pride to hear the incredible work that is being done by students and researchers in Texas universities,” she said. “After the experiences I had on Capitol Hill, I now know how to empower others to create change. I look forward to carrying out this grassroots campaign and future campaigns in my nursing career.”

Prior to going to Washington, Linda was successful in having her resolution “Increased Education to Parents on Liquid Medications to Prevent Medication Error” passed at the Texas Nursing Student Association’s annual convention. This statewide organization addresses local and national issues important to nursing students and promotes professionalism and leadership.

“Nursing is about not taking the easy way out. We need to ask ourselves, ‘How can we get the best outcomes for our patients?’” Linda said. “As nurses, we’ll not only be helping shape what health care looks like, we’ll be leading that change in hospitals and even boardrooms.”

Bookmark and Share