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An Active Learning Experience in Health Policy for Baccalaureate Nursing Students

Authors

  • Mary E. Byrd R.N., Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
      Mary E. Byrd, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Providence, RI 02908-1991. E-mail: mbyrd@ric.edu
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  • Joanne Costello R.N., M.P.,

  • Carol R. Shelton R.N., Ph.D.,

  • Patricia A. Thomas R.N., Ph.D.,

  • Dorothy Petrarca R.N., M.S.N.


  • Mary E. Byrd is Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island. Joanne Costello is Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island. Carol R. Shelton is Professor, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island. Patricia A. Thomas is Professor, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island. Dorothy Petrarca is Assistant Professor, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island.

Mary E. Byrd, Department of Nursing, Rhode Island College, 600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Providence, RI 02908-1991. E-mail: mbyrd@ric.edu

Abstract

Abstract Nurses have the potential to promote the public's health through active involvement in shaping health and social policy. Preparing nursing students to influence public policy is a major component of the curriculum in public/community health nursing. A series of learning experiences was designed to engage students in this process. First, students participate in information sessions at the State Health Department and the State House. This provides them with opportunities to engage in dialogue with public health leaders as well as advocates from both professional organizations and community groups. Next, students identify the legislators who represent them in the community and write a narrative that describes the legislators' interest and commitment to health-related legislation. Lastly, students work in clinical groups to analyze a public health problem that can be addressed through public policy interventions. This has led to the students testifying at legislative hearings and working with community groups involved with the issue. The students present their findings to their peers and to the wider college community. Through these learning experiences, students gain practical experience in understanding the political process that leads to important policy change. This in turn prepares them for their roles as professional nurses and involved citizens.

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