RNO Advocacy: Tips for Calling an Elected Official at Local, State or Federal Levels


Members of the Rural Nurses Organization (RN) are concerned about moving rural health care forward by advocating for our clients and relevant policies. Advocating for clients varies depending on individual needs and cultural preferences. Advocating politically at the local, state and federal level for most nurses is seemingly more complicated. When a nurse is put on the spot to respond to an issue that one knows only peripherally can be especially frightening. Without having the time to seek out the best answer one can easily be tripped up and not give the most appropriate response –especially when responding to a representative or senator at the state or federal level. Yet, these elected officials need and are seeking input from nurses, in particular those in rural practice.
Along with face-to-face meetings, nurses can interact with local officials, state legislators and congressional members by writing a letter sent by snail mail, using electronic mail (e-mail) or calling by telephone. Picking up the phone and calling an elected official is quick and relatively easy. However, for most people the idea of making a phone call is more intimidating than writing a letter or sending an e-mail to your congress person. A short focused phone conversation can have a significant and timely impact in getting the attention of a staff member in the congressional office. In turn, that staff member often recalls a constituent’s verbal pitch from phone call or face-to-face conversations when reporting to the elected official. A phone call also presents an immediate opportunity for staff members to ask follow-up questions about the issue and its direct impact at the local level that is useful to policy makers.

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