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Student empowered by Nurses Day at the Capitol

During the spring semester when the Idaho Legislature is in session, adjunct professor Corey Surber encourages student nurses to participate in the American Nurses Association’s Nurses Day at the Capitol Building. Surber teaches the Policy, Power and Voice class and generally offers extra credit for students who participate.

A group of nursing students pose for a picture together inside the Idaho State Capitol.
Brittany Braislin (front row, second from left) reflects on her experience at Nurses Day in 2023.

Students receive a tour of the building, sit in on committee meetings and visit with legislators. They also network with nurse leaders and managers from local hospital systems, as well as leaders from Idaho’s branch of the American Nurses Association.

Last year, a group of nurses and students also spoke with Lieutenant Governor Scott Bedke. “It was huge for them,” Surber recalled. “He basically said, ‘We want to hear from nurses; what questions do you have for us?’”

Senior Brittany Braislin attended Nurses Day in spring 2023.

Read her reflection:

“In my personal experience, Nurses Day at the Capitol was a day where nurses gathered to share how we can all work together, discuss healthcare policies and changes, advocate for one another and our profession, and how to create a better future for Idaho.

Nurses Day at the Capitol was a very powerful day to be a part of…Being a student nurse, I didn’t think I would have much of a voice at this event. I truly came for the experience and to see how healthcare and our local government intersect. After listening to many stories around the room, I knew sharing my clinical experience would help build the case of nurse shortages and nurse pay concerns.

I contemplated for quite some time if I should speak up about my experience or not. Whispers of encouragement from my professor, Corey Surber, and a local ICU manager were heard by others around me. The next thing I knew, a pathway through the crowd was made so I could walk through and speak face-to-face with the Lieutenant Governor.

Brittany Braislin stands behind a desk at the Idaho State Capitol.
Braislin visiting the Idaho State Capitol in spring 2023.

With a nervous and shaky voice, I stated my name and what kind of affiliation I had with the nursing field. In the back of my mind, I was very concerned about how much power I would have behind my voice (as I was just a student nurse, and I was curious how seriously (or not) I was going to be taken). After introductions, I was welcomed by the Lt. Gov. and everyone involved in this discussion.

I proceeded to speak about what I witnessed during my clinical experience and the concerns with nurse pay, which account for some of the nurse shortages… After the meeting ended, I was commended for speaking up and using my own experience to talk about something that I knew was affecting healthcare and the nursing field.

“Honestly, I have never felt so empowered like that by a group of strangers. It was truly an incredible feeling.”

Since my interaction on Nurses Day at the Capitol, it has given me the confidence to speak up on issues. I hope that hearing my story will entice others to use their voices, too.

I would encourage attending this event to join the network of nurses and get your concerns heard. You never know what kind of change you can make, until you try.”