Through the weekend of Sat., March 25 and Sun., March 26, 2024, Saint Anselm Nursing students Lillian Jones ’24 and Ashely Damon ’24 joined Jean School of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Diane Uzarski, DNP, MPH, RN, at the AACN 2024 Student Policy Summit hosted in Washington, D.C.

The nursing students gained insight from nursing professionals and national policy experts who shared their personal experiences and professional advocacy as workers in the healthcare field. The students learned how to advocate for their patients at a local and national level from these speakers.

Jones and Damon were grateful to attend Capitol Hill and meet with legislative staff under New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassen and Representative Chris Papas. At Capitol Hill, the staffers and Saint Anselm students worked together on the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Program and how to fight for the needs of the nation as current and future healthcare professionals.

Damon reflects: “It was so beneficial being able to converse with members of other colleges and universities as well with other nurses and healthcare professionals. I gained so much more knowledge than I imagined. The speakers were truly inspiring and it was such a valuable experience to be able to have conversations with legislative professionals.”

From the unforgettable experience at the AACN Student Policy Summit, the nursing students brought back knowledge from nursing professionals. They were exposed to informational sessions on federal policy and professional advocacy from a nurse's perspective, which helped to facilitate the Saint Anselm students' understanding.

“This opportunity had such a positive impact on my overall experience as it reinforced my education by bringing it into a real-world context that expanded beyond merely direct patient care,” said Jones. “Meeting nurses and nursing students across America was so enlightening, and such a great way to get new perspectives on nursing care from states that might have different patient populations.”

Jones and Damon were nominated to attend and selected based upon their written responses on how they would benefit from the AACN Student Policy Summit into their future nursing careers. Dean Uzarski hopes for more students to attend the AACN Student Policy Summit in 2025.

“In bringing our students to Capital Hill, first and foremost, my hope was that our students would learn that they have a voice as future nurses, and have a responsibility to advocate,” said Dean Uzarski. “I also hoped that they would return to the Jean School and share their knowledge with classmates.”