Schools Discuss Health Care With State Legislators
STEVE BERBERICH AND KEVIN NASH
As representatives of the University’s schools continued the annual series of “advocacy days” at the Maryland State House during the legislative session, lawmakers exchanged information with students, faculty, and staff, while expressing their appreciation for the visits.
“I absolutely commend the University, the dean, and staff for their advocacy, for coming down and letting your voices be heard and your presence be seen,” said Delegate Keith Haynes, JD, MPA, during the School of Pharmacy’s advocacy day.
The schools of pharmacy, dentistry, and nursing each held advocacy days in February. The law and medical schools had advocacy days earlier (see the March issue of the VOICE). The School of Social Work’s advocacy day was canceled due to snow.Among the topics discussed during the February visits were collaboration between nurses and other health care providers, and the roles of dentistry and pharmacy in health care.
Nurses Are Part of the Health Care Team
Approximately 20 students from the School of Nursing, plus Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, and several members of the faculty and staff, met with members of the General Assembly, including School of Nursing alumnae Adelaide Eckardt, MS ’81, BSN ’78, and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, MAS, BSN ’80. Students also were able to shadow a legislator.
Jay A. Perman, MD, University president, spoke with the nursing group in Annapolis.
“We want to let our legislators know the importance of health care delivery by a team,” Perman said. “Let’s help them understand.”
Kirschling, who became dean of the nursing school in January, was formally introduced to the House of Delegates and briefly spoke on the importance of a well-prepared nursing workforce.
“I hope we can continue the long tradition of preparing well-educated nurses for all of the areas that you represent so they can receive high-quality health care,” Kirschling said.
Good Health Requires Good Oral Health
A delegation of dental school students, residents, and faculty members spent a day meeting and educating legislators, many from their home districts. The discussions helped legislators appreciate the critical link between good oral health and overall health, says Dean Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, who was part of the group.
Perman reminded the students that they represent what’s to come in health care.
“You, who are the future of dentistry, need to see yourselves as part of health care delivery,” Perman said. “You are not a peripheral part—you are a very central part of a group of professionals who make a difference in health care.”
Senator Thomas Middleton lauded the students for helping the state prepare to meet future oral health care needs.
“You are driven and dedicated to the delivery of dental services to our population, and I thank you for that,” Middleton said.
Pharmacists’ Role in Health Care Expands
About 20 School of Pharmacy students, accompanied by Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, had group and one-on-one discussions with state delegates and senators to encourage their support of pharmacists’ rapidly expanding role in health care.
“This is a day when we bring our students to Annapolis to expose them to the legislative process in our state and to help them understand their significant role in advocating for their profession as well as for their education,” says Eddington.
Student Jasmine Ebron says it is important for legislators “to understand the value we place on our programs of managing chronic diseases” and to appreciate “the benefit of pharmacists taking a more active role in chronic disease management”—benefits that include lowering recurring hospital admission rates and reducing some of the financial burden on the health care system.
Ronald Hube contributed to this article.