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2012 News Releases

Longwood nursing students participate in legislative conference

February 14, 2012

Longwood nursing students participate in legislative conference
Front row from left: Dr. Melody Eaton, Jessica Farthing, Lindsey Lichtenstein, Melissa Haislip, Stephanie Christian, Tiffany Bailey, Taylor Dix and Joan Finnegan. Back row from left: Brittany Hess, Kenly Walston and Jennifer Sawyer.

Longwood University nursing students recently traded in their scrubs and stethoscopes for power suits and "talking points." They learned about becoming advocates for their future profession - and did a bit of advocating themselves with State legislators.

Some nine members of Longwood's first nursing class participated Feb. 8 in the 27th Annual Nurses Day at the General Assembly, a conference in Richmond sponsored by the Virginia Nurses Association (VNA) that educates nursing students on the legislative process. The juniors, accompanied by Dr. Melody Eaton, director of the Nursing Program, and Joan Finnegan, a registered nurse and wife of Longwood President Patrick Finnegan, met with legislators, were officially recognized in the Senate Gallery of the State Capitol and attended conference meetings on the legislative process and current issues related to the nursing profession.

"Nurses Day is an educational event geared to students," Eaton said. "It's a way for nursing students to learn that advocacy - both patient advocacy and professional advocacy - is essential to the nursing profession."

The highlight of the day may have been when the Longwood contingent was officially introduced in the Senate Gallery by Sen. Thomas A. Garrrett Jr., who represents Farmville. When Garrrett, in whose office the group had visited earlier, announced the Longwood delegation, they stood in the Gallery, a balcony that overlooks the Senate floor, and were applauded by the senators and visitors.

They also visited the offices of other members of the General Assembly, including Del. James E. Edmunds II, who also represents Farmville, and legislators of whom some of the students are constituents; attended sessions on nursing practice issues and sessions in which VNA legislative specialists provided advice on "How to approach and talk to your Legislator." They also listened to remarks by Dr. William Hazel Jr., Virginia secretary of Health and Human Services.

"Our students' training includes professional activities, one of which is legislative advocacy, and Nurses Day is part of that," Eaton said. "We want them to become advocates for their patients and their profession. The advocacy role helps them to truly develop into citizen leaders."

This was the first time that Longwood had participated in Nurses Day, in which the Nursing Program plans to participate every year. The Longwood participants, who will graduate in May 2013, are among the 31 members of the inaugural class in the Bachelor of Science nursing program, launched in fall 2009. More than 600 people, including students from most nursing programs from across the state, participated in this year's Nurses Day.