Category: School of Nursing
March 02, 2023 Written by Amy Cherry | Photo by Evan Krape
From bedside to Legislative Hall, more nurse legislators needed
Delaware Lieutenant Governor and University of Delaware School of Nursing Professor Bethany Hall-Long’s interest in politics started with a fire in her belly when she was a graduate student at the Medical University of South Carolina, working with vulnerable populations.
“The people in the Black and Brown communities, particularly mentally ill veterans experiencing homelessness, did not have a voice,” she said.
Through those experiences and equipped with guidance from strong mentors like Dr. Hazel Johnson-Brown, who became the first Black female general in the U.S. Army in 1979, Hall-Long saw a clear need for nurses in healthcare policy.
“Without me writing letters and advocating to work with the League of Women Voters and other organizations, we were not going to get the resources necessary for shelter or therapeutics that mentally ill veterans experiencing homelessness needed,” Hall-Long said.
While a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, Hall-Long interned in the Washington, D.C. offices of Senators Bob Dole, Thad Cochran, and Ted Kennedy, furthering her interest in public service.
Speaking during a virtual panel discussion entitled Nurse State Legislators Monday, Feb. 13, sponsored by School of Nursing in the College of Health Sciences and the Biden Institute at UD as well as the Center for Health Policy at Columbia University, Hall-Long encouraged current graduate and doctoral students and nurses at the bedside to be engaged with elected officials and their local communities.
“Don’t be shy. You’ve got a lot of courage,” she said. “If you’re a nurse, clinician, or administrator, you can be elected. You have all the skill sets and can be ready on day one. We need nurses at every level of government.”