It's what allows individuals, organizations, and
associations to ensure that elected officials address their concerns. With
issues such as health care reform, patients' rights, and access to care at the
top of the political agenda at the Capitol and in the White House, turning on
your political power as a nurse has never been more important. It is critical
that nurses speak up-about quality patient care, adequate staffing, safe
workplaces, and the multitude of concerns you and your colleagues face every
day. Who better to advocate to Congress about the need for quality health care
than those who are on the front lines?
Your letters, phone calls, and visits to members of Congress
truly make the difference. There are many ways to make your voice heard:
Visit your members of Congress
Members of Congress are often
available for meetings with constituents when they are at home in their
district. To set up a meeting with your member of Congress, contact the district
office and speak with the scheduler. Attending the town meetings that members of
Congress often hold during congressional recess is another great way to learn
where your member of Congress stands on the issues important to you.
Make phone calls
Get the phone numbers for members of Congress from
the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121, government pages of your phone
book, House and Senate websites www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, or public policy staff.
A personal email is just as effective as a
handwritten letter and both are most effective when they reflect your personal
experiences and views in your own words. Form letters don't carry as much weight
as a letter that you have written yourself. Highlight a personal experience and
tie it back to the issue at hand. This will help the office relate the issue
back to their state or district.
Send e-mail and write letters
Because of the anthrax
decontamination process now in place, delivery of U.S. mail to Congress and the
White House is routinely delayed by as much as three months. Using e-mail or
sending a fax is really the best way to make sure your voice will be heard in
time to make a difference.
Tips on effective e-mail and letter writing:
Short, direct letters are the most effective.
Deal with just one subject or issue in your letter, and
state your topic clearly in the first paragraph.
Letters are most effective when they reflect your
personal experiences and views in your own words. Form letters don't carry as
much weight as a letter that you have written yourself.
Be sure to give your name and address
Legislators and other
decision makers pay most attention to letters that come from their
constituents-people who will be voting for or against them-so it's important to
let them know you are from their district. Including your contact information
also enables elected officials to respond to your concerns.
- Be persistent
Write often, especially to legislators who are
undecided on an issue.