Analyze the current local, state or national issues that impact healthcare and/or nurses.
• Analyze the current local, state or national issues that impact healthcare and/or nurses.
• Write an effective professional business letter addressing a policy defining healthcare delivery and systems of care.
• Demonstrate active involvement in the policy defining healthcare delivery and systems of care.
1. Select a health topic issue that interests you. Look around your work place, profession, community, or for state or national legislation that affects you. Here are some other websites (you may choose others):
Florida Online Sunshine (State legislation information)
Florida Nurses Association
American Nurses Association
2. The letter should be addressed to the political representative or person with responsibility for the issue being addressed (i.e. who has authority to change this matter? i.e.:
For Healthcare bills, your state district representative has authority over state legislation; and, your Florida congressman represents you in the US House of Representatives for federal/national bills. Look up the specific bill number if you write your representative – on his/her website). Other persons of authority: City Council, mayor, school district superintendents, etc.
Guidelines for a Letter to a Legislator
a. Keep the letter to one to two, single-spaced pages in correct business letter format.
b. You may write the letter as if one person is speaking for your entire group or as if the entire group is writing the letter. The choice is yours.
c. The letter that you turn in should include reference list.
d. Remember that you are writing to someone who may know little, if anything, about your issue even if they once introduced it. Provide adequate information but always be concise.
e. Do not include any extraneous materials, such as brochures, etc.
a. Begin with an introduction.
b. Identify yourself and your discipline. This should not take more than one sentence. Some groups list all of the disciplines within the group and some summarize all the disciplines or specialties in the group; other groups simply represent themselves as either RNs or as graduate students. Decide which role best supports your position.
c. State the purpose of the letter at the beginning. Include all of the information necessary to identify the bill and the complete title of the legislation. Remember that legislators are involved with hundreds of bills and often need reminding of the specifics.
d. Briefly discuss your reason for selecting this legislator/policymaker. This is important. The reason that you select a legislator must be related to the status of the bill. For example, if the bill is in specific committee and your legislator is not on the committee there is little that he/she will be able to do to support or to inhibit the bill. It would be better to write a member of the committee. You should have collected this information in Stage I. If the bill has been in the committee for over a year it is highly unlikely that the bill will move forward or that there will be any action or progress on it anytime soon. Keep that in mind when asking for support and remind the legislator of the last action on the bill.
e. Provide complete title of the legislation and summarize the essence of the bill in 1-3 sentences.
f. Provide a clear summary of the health policy issue(s) related to the bill.
g. Acknowledge all of your hard work by listing the variety of stakeholders you interviewed. This should not take more than a sentence since it is a list of roles and not a description. You may choose to describe a single stakeholder if you have a very powerful story or a very powerful quote that you plan to use. Avoid using verbatim quotes from any source with one exception. A single quote can be very powerful if it is short (no more than about 40 – 60 words).Summarize the major points from your interviews on cost, access and quality. Do acknowledge the diversity of perspectives that you collected so that you present a balanced view but limit the detail since you only have two pages.
h. Briefly state your reasons for either supporting or opposing your selected issue.
i. Strengthen your own position toward the bill by addressing the major points of the opposition and describing how your own quality data counteracts those points. Fully consider the arguments opposing your view and then as you acknowledge those views provide data, statistics or other credible evidence to explain and support your reasons for your stance on the issue.
You might have accomplished some of this work during Advocacy Stages I and II as you prepared for your interviews, but you may need to collect additional data on cost, access and quality to support your position or counteract others. You can do a library search for convincing research and statistics. You might also find some helpful links to credible data on the Course Research Guide. Links to other resources on cost, access and quality are provided on the Governmental Health Policy Resources page and on the Non-Government Health Policy Resources page.
j. Asking the legislator to “support the bill” is not enough. What needs to happen to block the progress of the bill or to move it forward to the next step? Be specific about what you want the legislator to do. If the bill is in committee and the legislator is not on that committee do not ask him/her to vote to move the bill out of committee.
k. Ask the legislator for a response and provide adequate information about your preferred method of contact. In past semesters a single person has provided contact information even if all members sign the letter. It is appropriate to ask for either an email or written response.
l. Thank the legislator for his/her time and for any previous or ongoing work on this issue. Thanking him/her for previous work demonstrates that you are aware of his/her continued involvement with this issue.
m. Close with a summary.
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