Last year’s scope of practice battle in Louisiana helped ignite my new passion for state-level advocacy work, and it can for you, too. In spring 2021, HB 495, a bill submitted by Rep. Barry Ivey, was progressing quickly through the Louisiana legislative process. It was a bill that would grant full practice authority to advanced practice registered nurses, who would no longer need to collaborate with a supervising physician when treating patients. As usual, I was watching from the sidelines—I’d always been passive with legislative advocacy efforts. This time, the bill passed through committee, something that had never happened before. Then the bill quickly progressed through the House floor. My stress level spiked at the realization this bill could become law, and I knew I couldn’t afford to wait this out and hope for the best—I had to get involved.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 41 – No 03 – March 2022
By the time I joined the cause, things were looking pretty bleak. The consensus among the public was that the bill was going to pass, but Louisiana physicians from all specialties joined forces to push back against it. LA-ACEP worked together with other specialties to hire a short-term lobbyist to make a last-minute push. On the first day, the lobbyist actually was worried we hired him too late in the process, but he stayed the course and was at the capitol from dawn to dusk, spreading our message: Advanced practice nurses should not perform independent unsupervised care.1
Beginning a Grassroots Campaign
Using the power of social media, I started a physician-only Facebook group focusing specifically on this bill. While our lobbyist was at the capitol, we made a big grassroots push. We organized hundreds of physicians statewide to deluge our legislators by phone, via email, or in person. It was clear that a lot of physicians wanted to get involved and didn’t know how to go about it. We kept it simple to make their voices heard; our collective voice declared to our legislators that Louisiana physicians did not support this bill.
The next month was wild! We communicated ideas and directions among physicians, our contacts, and lobbyists at the capitol. I posted daily updates with next steps (provided by our contacts) on our Facebook group page. Within a few days, the momentum started to change in our favor, and we knew we couldn’t rest. We kept the messaging going for the next month. It was such an incredible feeling the day we found out the bill had officially been defeated.