It’s said that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. And if there is one thing senior Kelsey Mumford is, it’s busy. Very.
In spring 2017, she attended the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Student Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., a three-day conference designed to immerse student nurses in didactic program sessions focused on the federal policy process and nursing’s role in professional advocacy.
In spring 2018 she received a full student scholarship for the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI), which is a Nursing Organizations Alliance annual education offering that provides nurses an opportunity to learn advocacy strategies to further professional nursing and health care concerns through the legislative and regulatory processes. She received the program’s only student full scholarship.
NIWI participants learn from health policy experts and government officials, network with nurses from many geographical locations and disciplines, and visit members of Congress. Kelsey was able to meet with the legislative staff of Roger Williams, U.S. Representative for Texas’s 25th congressional district, to discuss issues such as the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act and an opioid crisis response bill. The former supports the recruitment, education, and retention of nurses and nursing students. The latter would provide advanced practice registered nurses with greater ability to prescribe naloxone and other opioid addiction treatments to patients.
Recently Kelsey was elected to serve on the National Student Nurses’ Association’s (NSNA) Board of Directors, which is made up of nine nursing students who are elected at the organization’s annual convention. During the convention, she and fellow UT Austin student Elena Cole witnessed the passage of their resolution “In support of coordinated health policy advocacy opportunities for nursing students.”
In summer 2018, Kelsey traveled back to the Washington, D.C. area to participate in the Amgen Scholars Program at the National Institutes of Health. This annual public health research program is supported by the Amgen Foundation and provides selected undergraduates an opportunity to engage in hands-on research experiences at some of the world’s premier educational institutions. According to recent participant data, almost 1,000 students applied this year, but only 20 were accepted. Kelsey worked at the National Institute of Mental Health’s Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, Section on Neurocircuitry, on an experiment that may potentially serve as an unbiased screening tool for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Back home, Kelsey launched the Health Advocacy Student Coalition (HASC), an idea that grew out of her receiving the Student Grassroots Ambassador Prize at the 2017 Nursing Student Policy Summit.
“The Health Advocacy Student Coalition provides a way for health-related organizations to come together and have a bigger impact on health policy because they’re all discussing it from their own points of view,” she said.
The coalition partners with 25 health-related UT Austin student organizations that send representatives to the monthly meetings where they discuss legislation and plan advocacy events. Members of the research team within the coalition present bills to club representatives who then vote on whether or not to adopt the legislation as part of HASC’s agenda for the year. Once a piece of legislation is adopted, HASC provides opportunities to attend local demonstrations, take part in call-ins or advocate at the Texas Capitol.
“Legislation topics include health disparities and reproductive and global health, and the bills we worked on were relevant to students,” said Kelsey. “We wanted to give students a way to get involved whether the bills passed or not.”
As a Forty Acres Scholar, Kelsey received a full-ride, merit-based scholarship administered by the Texas Exes alumni organization. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in spring 2019. Ultimately, she would like a career in health policy and credits UT Austin with encouraging her to get involved in this arena.
“Learning these skills as an undergraduate has helped me overcome any intimidation I might have felt when discussing important topics with state and federal officials,” Kelsey said. “The School of Nursing has been so supportive and given me a great foundation.”