by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

How will Oklahoma close what is becoming a reoccuring funding deficit to public services?
How will we ensure funding for public and higher education so students who want to pursue a career in the medical field will be prepared?
These questions and others will be posed to Oklahoma’s gubernatorial candidates and legislators when the Oklahoma Nurses Association hosts its annual Nurses Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 27.
ONA President Jane Nelson says that for the first time the association will host a roundtable of Oklahoma’s candidates for governor so nurses can find out important information.
Invitations have been sent to candidates asking for their attendance or to send a representative.
One week prior to the event, Nelson said the campaigns of Drew Edmondson, Kevin Stitt, Mick Cornett, Connie Johnson and Gary Jones have all committed to coming to the roundtable.
The campaigns of Todd Lamb, Gary Richardson and Dan Fisher were still undecided about sending a representative.
Nelson explained the panel will be held in a talk show format with questions coming from the audience.
“We will be asking questions regarding nursing practice, health care and how they plan to address those issues and others,” Nelson said, noting the topic of filling the budget hole will be key. “Questions (will be asked) that go to the heart of it like if we don’t have money for education how do we insure students will graduate so they can pursue degrees, especially in nursing?”
ONA encourages all Nurses and Nursing Students to get involved in the legislative process by attending Nurses Day at the Capitol. The day begins with an informational session held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, followed by an opportunity to go to the Capitol and talk with legislators.
You will have the opportunity to:
*Hear legislative experts, legislators and ONA’s Lobbyist.
*Talk with legislators concerning the issues vital to ONA and the nursing profession.
*Increase your awareness of the role nurses play in the political arena.
*Voice your concerns regarding legislation affecting nursing practice, patient safety, preventive care and health education as well as Oklahoma’s health status.
The agenda for this year’s event begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. the day of the event and an opening welcome at 8:30 a.m.
A few minutes later the panel of gubernatorial candidates addressing the future of Oklahoma’s health will begin.
“There probably won’t ever be another another forum quite like this,” Nelson said.
A break to visit exhibitors will follow and then a 10:15 a.m. learning activity session detailing the legislative process will be offered.
ONA Lobbyist Vickie White Rankin will address the group on how they can make a differnence by advocating for their profession at the capitol.
Beginning at 1 p.m. attendees will visit with legislators and hear bills in the House and Senate chambers.
Nelson said the event typically draws some 500 attendees including nursing students and faculty.
“What comes out of it is an important opportunity to engage with gubernatorial candidates … that want to know what our issues and legislative priorities are,” Nelson said. “(Legislators) are asking us questions about our practice and it’s really been an open dialogue with nurses.”
You can register online at or call 405-840-3476 for more information.