Legislative Advocacy: Developing a Plan and Keeping Your Eyes on the End Goal

"Find a dream and then apply passion and collaboration to actualize it."

Barbara Zittel, PhD, RN

On December 18, 2017, New York’s governor signed historic legislation that requires future registered nurse (RN) graduates of associate degree and diploma nursing programs to finish a baccalaureate completion program in nursing within ten years after initial licensure in New York State.

First introduced in 2005, the bill was based on groundbreaking nursing research, since replicated in other countries, that demonstrates the significant positive impact of baccalaureate education on the health outcomes of patients and clients receiving nursing care. This landmark law is also consistent with the 2010 Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing recommendation to increase the number of Baccalaureate prepared nurses.

Success was not easy. It began with a vision, education of multiple stakeholder groups, and ultimately, the tireless efforts of nurses working individually and in coalition (Coalition for Advancement of Nursing Education – CANE) over twelve years. I hosted weekly updates and requests for engagement through CANE and thankfully CANE grew.

My recommendations for achieving success:

Develop a deeply comprehensive understanding of your purpose and the knowledge of where compromise can occur and where it cannot.

Form or join a coalition of like-minded folks, with some ‘mavericks’ to challenge assumptions.

Maintain your integrity—keep promises, be truthful, be sincere, be trustworthy.

Fully utilize social media to achieve your goals. In the last hours before the Governor signed the bill we mounted a Facebook and Twitter campaign to impact a favorable outcome. We had to provide instruction to many, but soon members were frantically posting and tweeting.