2016 Virtual Lobby Week
Taking Steps to Advocate and Act
March 7 – 11, 2016 we will be sharing our advocacy knowledge with you. From best practices and tips, to the latest issues facing neonatal nursing. Virtual Lobby Week is designed to demystify advocacy. Together, we will learn how to be effective advocates for babies, their families, and our profession.
While every legislator is in favor of protecting the health of their constituents, they may not be familiar with the unique needs of neonates. We are in a privileged position to care for these babies and, as advocates, strive to optimize their health outcomes.
Each day of Virtual Lobby Week, you will receive an email with a brief advocacy lesson. Each day's lesson is structured to build your skills and confidence as an advocate. Those lessons will also be available on this page!
One of the first steps of advocacy is researching an issue at hand. As neonatal nurses we know that prematurity is the leading cause of newborn mortality and the second leading cause of infant mortality. Among those who survive, one in five faces health problems that persist for life.
Senate Bill 2041, also known as S. 2041 and the Promoting Life-Saving Therapies for Neonates Act, will encourage the development of new therapies to ultimately improve the quality of treatment options available to premature newborns. For example, S. 2041 would close the treatment gap by stimulating the development of safe and effective drugs for a challenging and neglected pediatric population, ensure that new neonatal drugs address the most critical needs in the neonatal population by collaborating with multiple stakeholder, and create a new incentive model by providing a transferrable "exclusivity voucher" to drug sponsors who successfully develop products for neonates. This voucher would enable the product sponsor to extend the exclusivity period on another drug by one year.
By reading and sharing any of the following materials, you can help bring awareness to the gap in innovation for neonates.
NANN supports S. 2041 because it represents a proactive initiative to encourage and reward innovative research and development of therapies for neonates. Over the next few days we will share a few more ways you can show your support for S. 2041.
In order to take action, we have to determine who our senators are. This website will provide you with your U.S. Congress officials based upon your zip code. Clicking on each senator displays all basic information, which almost always includes a contact form or email address and a website. Using this information, we can show digital support for S. 2041 by writing an email or reaching out through social media to our senators.
Here are some tips for writing an email, Facebook post, or tweet to a senator:
- Always be clear in the action you want your representative to take
- Personal stories and examples can greatly strengthen your point
- Keep correspondence short and sweet
- Share relevant press releases, images from events, or NANN fact sheets
- When applicable, use hashtags related to the issue you're trying to publicize (e.g. #NANNAdvocacy or #S2041)
Show your digital support for S. 2041 today by reaching out to your representatives on social media or by writing an email.
Yesterday we showed our support for S.2041 through digital media. Today, we raise our voices.
Calling your legislator is a time-tested and effective advocacy method. Legislators regularly ask staff members about constituent calls, and track how many constituents weigh in on either side of an issue. Your senator's phone number is readily available on his or her website and the Capitol Hill Switchboard (202.224.3121) is available to connect you to the appropriate office.
If you feel intimidated about calling your senator, try using this phone script.
Hello, my name is XXXX and I am a constituent and a registered nurse in (your city/state).
I am calling to urge (Senator XXX) to support Senate Bill 2041, Promoting Life Saving New Therapies for Neonates Act of 2015. As a (registered nurse/NNP) who has dedicated (her/his) career to helping the smallest patients, I am convinced that we can do more to encourage the development of innovative neonatal treatments. The Promoting Life-Saving New Therapies for Neonates Act of 2015 marks a positive step towards a new era for innovation in neonatal health. Through the provision of an "exclusivity voucher," Senate Bill 2041 will incentivize drug manufacturers to take on the vital research that would otherwise be too costly to perform.
Despite a growing need for new therapies, innovation in neonatal health has stalled due to the difficulty of clinical trials, the economic challenge of developing treatments for this category of patients and the complexities of the current regulatory system. This legislation proposed by your colleagues, Senator Casey and Senator Cassidy, would reverse this unacceptable status quo and provide the investment required to bring life-saving therapies for newborns into the 21st century.
As your constituent and as a neonatal nurse and a member of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, I urge you to support Senate Bill 2041, Promoting Life-Saving New Therapies for Neonates Act of 2015.
Thank you for your attention to my request. I look forward to hearing (Senator's XXX) position on this important piece of legislation.
(Leave your name, home address and phone number, so the office can follow up with you.)
Remember, the more calls the better. Ask others to make calls, too!
To take your advocacy efforts to the next level, think about scheduling a meeting with your senator to discuss S.2041 and your personal experiences as a neonatal nurse. Meeting with policymakers is an effective way to influence policy and build relationships with elected officials and their staff.
Tips for an Effective Meeting
Request a meeting. Email your senator's office or use the online meeting request submission form on his or her website. Make sure you include your preferred meeting location (some have multiple offices), who will attend with you, and the subject you'd like to discuss. Follow up with a phone call if you don't hear back. Confirm your meeting before the appointment via email or phone.
Meet. Your schedule may not align with your senator's, in which case you may meet with a staff member. This is not out of the ordinary—approach the meeting just as if you were meeting with the actual senator. On the day of your appointment, be on time and prepared to answer questions about the issue at hand.
Make your case. Personal stories are impactful and inspirational—share yours. Whenever possible, use data and other cases to support your cause. If you have time, prepare a one-page summary document to support your case and leave it with your senator for further review. And before you leave, ask your senator, or your senator's representative, what their stance is on S.2041 and why they feel the way they do. No matter what their view, be sure to share your gratitude for their time.
Challenge yourself to schedule an appointment with your senator in support of S.2041 and other issues that are important to you. Together, we can make a difference, but it takes efforts like these to make important change happen.
At the beginning of this week, we promised to help demystify the advocacy process. We've broken down the steps from research to connecting with your senator and scheduling appointments. But we know advocacy confidence comes from regular practice and you have everything you need to practice your new craft.
Advocacy Resources. To keep your advocacy skills fresh, check out NANN's Advocacy page, Fact Sheets, and Advocacy Community. If you're looking for hands-on experience, many NANN chapters have Advocacy Committees and plenty of issues to tackle on the local and state level.
Nurse in Washington Internship. Each year, NANN offers two scholarships for its members to attend the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) Program. If Virtual Lobby Week has sparked your interest in learning more about effective advocacy, we strongly encourage you to apply for the NIWI scholarship next winter. NANN 2016 attendees Roxanne Stahl and Barbara Smith just returned from Washington and we're excited to share their experiences in coming weeks.
Call for Volunteers. If you're interested in being a national advocate for babies and neonatal nursing, keep an eye out for our (the Health Policy and Advocacy Committee's) Call for Volunteers announcement in the next few months. We would love for you to join us!
We are grateful for the time you've shared with us this week and hope you feel confident and capable in raising your voice in the support of our profession and the babies we treat every day. Together, we are powerful!