ANNA Member Marlene Lacambra Reflects on 2022 Nurse In Washington Internship Program

ANNA member Marlene Lacambra participated in the Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) program in Alexandria, VA, March 21-23, 2022. Sponsored by the Nursing Organizations Alliance, the NIWI program provides nurses the opportunity to learn how to influence health care through the legislative and regulatory processes. Read below to learn more about her NIWI experience.

PhotoWhat is it in Capitol Hill or the White House that causes our city officials, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Wastewater Quality Control Board, to not allow our only dialysis center to use a water softener and to require additional tests unknown to other dialysis centers, causing costly hardship? This question inspired me to apply for the NIWI grant. I wanted to learn how to campaign for health care policy change at the federal level.

I represented ANNA at the 2022 NIWI conference. This was my first time attending NIWI in Alexandria, VA. I was the only attendee from California, and the NIWI scheduler was not able to schedule an appointment for me to meet with my Senators on Capitol Hill.

Because of NIWI, I learned to act by writing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) on important issues for 2023 Fiscal Year funding for nursing education and biomedical research via the ANNA Legislative Action Center.

Despite being an ANNA member for 20 years, I was not linked with an ANNA chapter because the distance between north and south from my dialysis center is more than 200 miles. This internship inspired me to consider starting our own chapter for nephrology nurses on the central coast to learn what else can dialysis offer for nurses and technicians than merely connecting and detaching patients from dialysis machines. There were approximately 50 nurses in attendance at the NIWI conference from various departments and levels of nursing. The nurses at my table expressed their fear about working in dialysis. I would like to improve nurses' understanding so they will not be afraid to work in dialysis.

Prior to NIWI, I was able to set up a meeting with our district Congressperson's senior representative and have my senior representative visit our dialysis clinic 1 week following the NIWI conference. In this meeting, I asked for our congressman’s support for the 2022 Asks, Appropriations Request, Build Back Better Act, and Recognition Act of 2021. I also mentioned the issues our dialysis center is having with our local officials, Wastewater Quality Control Board, and EPA.

This is only the start. I will continue to advocate for patients and staff to have a dialysis center in our community. I will not give up while we assist people to live longer and have better lives.

Marlene Lacambra, MBA, MSN, RN, CNN
NIWI Grant Recipient