Advocacy & Grassroots Toolkit
Use this toolkit as a resource to enhance your own public policy and advocacy efforts. This toolkit includes a variety of options, from simply establishing regular communications with your elected officials to the more advanced efforts entailed in developing a grassroots program to strengthen your influence in Washington, D.C. or in your state capitol.
Legislators, at both the state and federal level, are greatly influenced by what they know, who they know, and what they hear – especially from the people they represent. By communicating with a state legislator or a member of Congress, you can have a profound impact on the policies that most affect your practice, your patients, and the field of wound, ostomy, and continence nursing.
Your elected officials need to hear from you. They hear from constituents and special interest groups about many diverse issues ranging from education to transportation to foreign policy. They need to hear from the nursing community as well. Do not assume they know all the facts about the important role that wound, ostomy, and continence specialty nurses play in delivering patient care in your community. It is incumbent upon you to provide them with the information they need to fully understand and appreciate the vital role of WOC specialty nurses.
Learn suggested steps for communicating directly with your legislator.
State Advocacy Tips
WOCN Society members must be engaged at a state level because we are the eyes and ears of our profession and our patients. Policy decisions often happen quickly at the state level and can be made without the input of all stakeholders, if those stakeholders are not engaged in the process. So, how do you become engaged in the process at the state level? Learn some simple steps that can be taken.
Depending on the urgency of the situation there are three primary methods of communication: emails, phone calls, and social media outlets. Read tips for effectively developing communications methods to contact your legislators.
Tips for Writing a Letter or Email to a Legislator
Constituent letters and emails are an extremely effective advocacy tool. Learn more about writing letters and emails to your legislators.
Using Twitter: Tips & Sample Tweet
Learn more about using Twitter to effectively communication on social media
Common Titles and Job Functions in a Congressional Office
Members of Congress rely on their staff to assist him/her during a term in office, so knowing and understanding the titles and roles of these staff members is critical to communicating effectively with Congress. Learn more about common staff members in a Congressional office.
Increase your voice
Over time, you will have a much greater impact on public policy by developing and sustaining relationships with your elected officials and their staff. As a starting point, it is important for legislators to be aware of your practice and the community that it serves. However, for you to affect their decision-making, they must come to know you, your hospital and clinics, the people you serve, and the other community leaders who form the backbone of your support.
Legislators from neighboring districts need to know that wound, ostomy, and continence nurses are providing essential nursing care to their constituents – even if the actual practice is not located in their district.
People respond to people, and it is important to build personal relationships. These can be with legislators or with their key legislative staff. Building a relationship will take time and hard work, but if done well, it has the potential to yield significant results for the WOCN Society and our practice. Ideally, you will be able to involve your stakeholders and build upon their existing relationships with legislators.
Meeting With Your Representatives
Meeting with your elected officials is often the most effective way of educating them on a public policy issue. A face-to-face meeting provides an excellent opportunity to convey and receive information and to develop relationships that will benefit your cause. You can simplify the process by following the tips below.
This section contains background information on the United States Congress and the legislative process. Included are links to a variety of websites that will be useful to you in tracking the status of legislation and planning your advocacy activities in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate maintain their own calendars of legislative activity. To obtain the most current calendar produced by each legislative body, you can visit their respective websites
Status of Legislation
You can track the status of a piece of legislation through an online service offered by the Library of Congress. This website offers you the option of searching by a bill number, if known, or by a word or phrase. You can also monitor committee action and floor votes by visting www.congress.gov/
Contacting Your Members of Congress
To obtain contact information for your Senator or Representative (i.e., phone number, fax number, or email address), you should access their website. The easiest way to get to a member’s individual website is through the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate websites.
Each House and Senate committee has its own website with more detailed information on committee action and the status of legislation under its jurisdiction. Among the committees you may want to monitor are the following:
House jurisdiction relating to health care
- Committee on education and labor – This committee deals with a number of health care-related education and labor issues including the access to quality health care for working families, worker health and safety, programs and services for at-risk youth, child nutrition and poverty programs.
- Committee on energy and commerce – This committee and its subcommittees address issues pertaining to public health, hospital construction, mental health and research, biomedical research and equipment, Medicaid and national health insurance, food and drug regulation, drug abuse, and toxic substances.
- Committee on ways and means – This committee and its subcommittee on health addresses bills and matters related to programs providing payments for health care, health delivery systems or health research, programs under the Social Security Act, and tax credit and deduction provisions of the Internal Revenue Code dealing with health insurance premiums and health care costs. Specific programs addressed by this committee include Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) and Old-Age, Survivors & Disability Insurance.
Senate jurisdiction relating to health care.
- Special committee on aging – This special committee addresses matters pertaining to problems and opportunities of older people including health maintenance and issues to obtaining care and assistance.
- Committee on health, education, labor, and pensions (HELP) – HELP addresses matters relating to education, labor, health and public welfare, aging, biomedical research and development, occupational safety and health, and public health.
- Committee on finance – This committee concerns itself with issues of taxation and revenue, as well as insular possessions. More specifically, related to the concern for taxation and revenue issues, this committee addresses and has jurisdiction over most programs authorized by the Social Security Act and other health programs financed by a specific tax or trust fund. This includes Medicare parts A through D, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), TANF, Maternal & Child Health Title XX Social Services Block Grant Program, Old-Age, Survivors & Disability Insurance, and the Physician Payment Review Commission.
Tips & Templates
Legislators are greatly influenced by what they know and what they hear, especially from the people they represent. By communicating with a state legislator or a member of Congress, you can have a profound impact on the government policies that affect the practice of WOC nursing. Use these templates and tips to effectively contact your local officials.
Tips for Writing a Letter or Email to a LegislatorDownload
Tips for Writing a Meeting Request Letter to a LegislatorDownload
Using Twitter Tips & Sample TweetDownload
Sample Letter to Senate-Nursing Workforce ProgramsDownload
Sample Letter of Medical Necessity TemplateDownload
Sample Meeting Request Letter to a LegislatorDownload
Listen and Learn with WOCTALK
WOCTalk is the official podcast of the WOCN Society that discusses advocacy, education, and research that supports the practice and delivery of expert healthcare to individuals with wound, ostomy, and continence care needs. Visit wocn.org/podcast to stay up to date on all of our Public Policy & Advocacy podcast episodes.
NATIONAL PUBliC POLICY LIAiSONS
Our National Public Policy Liaisons ensure the legislative and regulatory issues of our members are represented.
If you have an issue or concern that you would like us to address, or if there’s an advocacy activity happening in your state, contact our liaisons or email email@example.com.
Kate Lawrence, New England Region, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Rorick, Washington, D.C., email@example.com
Nicolette Zuecca, New Jersey, firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS
Access the websites of other organizations that support the practice of WOC care.