13th Annual RNAO Day at Queen’s Park from a Nursing Student’s Perspective

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One hundred and fifty Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and nursing students gathered on March 1st, 2012, at Queen’s Park in Toronto to meet with a record number of 70 MPPs from across the province.

We all sat attentively listening to a welcome from RNAO President David McNeil and RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun. The Honorary Deb Matthews, Minister of Health & Long-Term Care, and Ms. Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party, both spoke of the great work nurses bring to the health-care system and how important our presence is in educating and informing members of the government on the needs of our patients and health care. The Hon. Deb Matthews felt like a familiar neighbour with her very personable yet powerful way of reaching her audience. Deb Matthews announced the Nursing Quality Indicators for Research and Evaluation (NQuIRE) program, a partnership with RNAO. As students who just learned about the NQuIRE program the day before at the RNAO orientation, we were very excited about the news!

All attendees were welcomed to enter the Public Gallerie Legislature for Question Period where strict conduct was expected while we watched members of our government debate back and forth. I was nervous to even smile in agreement with any of the discussions. It was definitely nothing like on TV.

After walking out of the Gallerie into a mob of video cameras, news reporters, and photographers, we broke into groups to meet with MPPs from our home chapters. Our group was scheduled to meet a member of each party -- NDP, PC, and Liberal. After the meeting the previous night, our group was ready to focus on our two main issues: funding for long-term care and increasing home and community care services. It was surprising how nice it was to sit down to a down-to-earth conversation with the MPPs for the purpose of providing them with insight on personal experiences we have had with patients and the two issues at hand. As Doris Grinspun put it: we walked out with “an amazing sense of the capacity that nurses have and the influence of the RNAO”.

Some of the main take-home messages of the day were that MPPs do want to have conversations about transforming the health-care system and we should continue to have these in our respectively cities; that we need to start putting the right people in the right places by having nurses practice to their full scope so that money we are spending in the system is used effectively; and the importance of keeping people home (prevention) and promoting patients to be able to return home (rehabilitation).

I highly recommend the experience to anyone, especially nursing students who would truly like to see firsthand how political advocacy connects with patient advocacy.

Manry Xu
Membership Officer 2011-2012
Nursing Students of Ontario

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