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Lonhala Magnair


Three Tips to Make Monitoring Federal Policy Easy

By Melissa Batchelor-Murphy

Do you ever wonder how people keep up with federal policy? When I already have enough to do in a day, can I really get involved with policy and make a difference? The answer is yes, and these three tips will get you started:

Tip #1: Use GAPNA's Website and Related Organizational Partners

One easy way to get an idea of policy interests and updates is through professional organizations. GAPNA has policy interests listed on the website, easily found by going to GAPNA > Resources > Health Policy.

Geriatric workforce development is a top interest and legislation has been introduced in the 116th Congress to reauthorize the Geriatric Workforce Education Programs (GWEPs). Other GAPNA partners following workforce issues include the American Medical Directors Association, American Geriatrics Society, among others.

Also look at other organizations that share your clinical interest, such as the Alzheimer's Association or American Heart Association. When you visit any these websites, be sure to follow them on social media (e.g., Twitter and Facebook).

Professional and clinical interest organizations will often have one-click buttons that will allow you to fill in a template with your information, and a letter will be auto-generated and emailed directly to your representatives.

Taking two minutes to send a letter does make a difference. Policymakers want to hear from their constituents and their offices monitor trends in emails and count every letter that comes in on a topic to get an idea of how many constituents care about an issue.

The same holds true for phone calls and letters sent via regular mail. You can customize and tweak the form letter if you want to and have time, but make contact however you can. You will receive an emailed response from the office within a few business days thanking you for your input on a topic. Take advantage of this low-lying fruit to get involved with policy even on your busiest day!

Tip #2: Website

Another way to find legislation is to visit Congress.gov. Given we are talking about geriatric workforce legislation, if you went to the Congress.gov Website and searched geriatric workforce, as of this writing, you would find S.299 Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act. The "S" indicates this is a Senate bill, and the "299th" bill introduced to the 116th Congress.

By searching with these key words, a House bill does not come up; meaning there isn't a H.R. (House Resolution) companion bill at this time. If you wanted to follow updates on this legislation as they occur, you can create an account (top right corner), then select the "Get Alerts" hyperlink just underneath the bill's title from the Congress.gov Website. Anytime something happens with this bill, you'll be among the first to know!

Tip #3: Apps and Social Media

A couple of apps that I find fun and also make following policy at a broader level fun include The Skimm and Countable. The Skimm has a free version and one that you can subscribe to, if you so choose. The updates are sent to your email Monday - Friday or you can view them within the app.

The things I like best about The Skimm are that the writers are incredibly clever, have a great sense of humor (both necessities in my world!), and they will put policies into context with background information, reminders of the background information, etc. When a topic could be potentially boring, The Skimm knows how to make me laugh while learning something new!

Countable is another app that makes following legislation easier. I use the free version of this app. When you create your account, it will tell you who your representatives are (My Reps), you can check out different issues, and join an Action Center if you feel so inclined.

You can see bills as they come in and get a quick summary. The House or Senate Bill numbers are listed, so if you wanted to view the original bill submitted to Congress, you can look it up in Congress.gov.

And a final way to have policy updates come to you is through social media. As you follow GAPNA and some of our organizational partners, you can see updates in your news feeds, too.

You don't have to be a member of these organizations to follow them on social media, so add them all and in your "down time," just scroll through and catch up on the policy news in aging!

Here are a few handles to get you started in Twitter:

  • AMDA: @AMDApaltc
  • AGS: @AmerGeriatrics
  • AACN: @AACNursing
  • ANA: @ANANursingWorld

Melissa Batchelor-Murphy, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN

Related Information:

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