'Who Will Fill These Shoes?' Ask U Nursing Alums

'Who Will Fill These Shoes?' Ask U Nursing Alums

Feb 12, 2003 5:00 PM

Friday is Nurses Day at the Legislature, when nurses will be lobbying for $6.5 million to alleviate Utahs acute nursing shortage. Utah Nursing Association (UNA) government relations lobbyist Becky Richards, R.N., says Utah has 1,500 nursing positions unfilled statewide.

To dramatize the point, the Us College of Nursing alumni advisory board, with dean Maureen Keefe's wholehearted support, is rounding up 1,000 pairs of white shoes to line the front steps of the Capitol Building for a 4 p.m. rally.

"The message to the legislature and the public is who will fill these shoes? and more importantly who will care for you?" said Keefe. "Nurses are concerned that availability and quality of health care will be adversely affected if the legislature does not find money to expand enrollment in the six nursing programs in the state."

Among those participating in the rally will be Nurses Day keynote speaker Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. Accompanying him will be state Sen. Paula F. Julander and Rep. Rebecca Lockhart, both registered nurses.

After the rally, the shoes will be donated to homeless and womens shelters. Nurses at Salt Lake area hospitals and members of UNA have been asked to contribute shoes and to attend the rally.

Welcoming remarks will be delivered by UNA president Marianne Craven, M.S.N., R.N., in the Capitol Rotunda at 2 p.m., and Becky Richards will present the Utah Nurse Legislative Award and introduce the UNA legislative agenda.

A panel discussion by the Nursing Shortage Strategy Coalition will take place at 2:30. Panelists include Rick Kinnersley, President/CEO, Utah Hospitals & Health Systems Association; Kim Wirthlin, Assistant Vice President for Legislative and Public Affairs, University of Utah Health Sciences Center; and Becky Richards.

In his 3:30 keynote address, Matheson will report on what the federal government is doing about the nationwide nursing shortage.

"The profession and the industry are all contributing to find a solution," said Becky Richards, "and well be there Friday to ask the legislature to do their part."

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