The Virginia Nurses Association's Lobby Days annually bring dozens of nurses and nursing students to Richmond to discuss policy issues, health initiatives, and to offer perspective on topics they feel should be at the forefront of political discussions centered on citizens' health and wellbeing.
This year, included among them was BSN student Natasha Coleman, 2019 Governor's Fellow and a former intern for the Richmond City Health District, who was invited to speak about nursing in this, the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Coleman, a 4th year student, spoke of being inspired by her mother, who for years cared for older people as a personal care assistant.
"I looked up to her as she cleaned, cooked, and developed genuine connections with each person she worked with," said Coleman to the crowd.
In high school, Coleman went on to volunteer as an intern at the Richmond City Health District, and last summer, as part of the governor's office, felt a "fire lit" by projects she tackled with her colleagues, "some of the smartest, kindest, individuals that shared the same goal as I: to make Virginia the healthiest state in which to live."
After her speech, Coleman - who's from Richmond - had the opportunity to hob-knob with politicians like Gov. Ralph Northam, and Virginia Secretary of Health Daniel Carey and his wife, Kim (a nurse herself), who officially proclaimed the "Year of the Nurse and Midwife" in Virginia by creating a plaque that will hang in the state capitol building throughout 2020.
"Advocacy means publicly supporting what is right," Coleman said. "We all see the challenges that our patients are going through, and it extends past the walls of the hospital. We must approach our work from both a clinical and policy perspective, so we can better advocate and better care for our patients."