Nurses meet in Jeff City for Nursing Advocacy Day

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JEFFERSON CITY - Nurses from across the state met at the Capitol Wednesday to lobby politicians and officials about laws that could affect their patients and their profession. 

More than 700 nurses and nursing students met for the 29th annual Missouri Nurses Association (MONA) Nurse Advocacy Day. The event is intended to increase awareness of the political process for all nurses and nursing students in Missouri. Attendees of the event go to the Capitol to lobby politicians about bills they want approved this year and nursing students have the chance to meet with their local legislators about how the nursing field can be improved. 

"Nurses are the backbone of the health care system," said Rebecca McClanahan, MONA president. "They're the front-line. They are the first person that many people see from the emergency room to the critical-care unit to out-patient offices."

McClanahan said there are more than 100,000 nurses in Missouri currently, but there is still room for more in many rural areas across the state and in major cities. She said, however, that nursing classes and programs across Missouri are completely full and there should be a lot of student nurses coming out of school and ready to work.

She said she believes programs such as Advocacy Day are important for students. 

"It changes lives," McClanahan said. "I attended the first Missouri Nurses Association Lobby Day in 1986 and I told the group this morning that this has the potential to change their lives. They will understand today what impact we will have by having a really good relationship with our legislators and by influencing the policy process." 

MONA listed four bills it supports as "high priority" to discuss with legislators today. The bills include ones that would create a database to assess the availability of qualified health care professionals and one that would increase Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and provide 300,000 Missourians with access to health insurance and preventive care. 

Another bill MONA favors House Bill 720, which would allow advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe Schedule-II medication in addition to Schedules III-V. Schedule-II drugs are those with a high potential for abuse and include adderall, oxycontin and percocet.