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Three East Central University nursing faculty and 49 senior nursing students participated in "Nurses' Day at the Capitol" recently to learn about the legislative process and meet with legislators about health care bills.

More than 500 nurses and nursing students attended from across Oklahoma.

"For many of the students, it was their first time inside the Capitol building," said Dr. Joseph T. Catalano, chair of ECU's Department of Nursing. "They have all taken a government and politics course, but seeing it first hand brings the legislative process to life."

The annual Nurses' Day at the Capitol workshop is organized by the Oklahoma Nurses Association. The morning session at the Cox Convention Center included presentations about the legislative process. Several nurses presented information about three bills that focused on state health care issues. The insurance bill, SB 3111, which sought to prevent the legislature from regulating health insurance companies, received a great deal of attention, Catalano said.

Catalano said Vickie Rankin-White, the nursing association's lobbyist, gave a moving presentation about the effect that just one dedicated person can have on both the legislative process and life in general. She also identified key senators and representatives to be visited about health care bills during the afternoon.

Although many of the students from other schools returned home after lunch, ECU's entire senior nursing class went to the Capitol. The students met Sen. Susan Paddack of Ada and talked with a number of other legislators to express their support of or opposition to selected bills.

"I was gratified to see that SB 3111 never made it out of committee and effectively was killed for this year," said Catalano.  "I don't think it was only because of my students speaking to legislators about it, but I do believe they had some influence in the outcome."

For more information about the Department of Nursing, call 888-691-0001 or go to the ECU nursing web site.

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