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ARN Announces Recipients of its 2022 Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) Scholarships

The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (ARN) Health Policy Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 Nurse in Washington Internship (NIWI) Scholarship: Yvette Salas, MSN CRRN, and Nanci Steinebach, MSN RN CCM CRRN.

Each year, the ARN Health Policy Committee selects two ARN member nurses to receive scholarships to attend the 3-day NIWI conference in the U.S. capital. Each scholarship includes paid conference registration and covers expenses associated with attending.

Presented by the Nursing Organizations Alliance (NOA), NIWI orients nurses, nursing students, and nursing organization staff leaders to the federal legislative process. This year's conference is March 21–23. ARN's scholarship is designed to educate and empower nurses to become directly involved with and influence policy at the local and national levels. ARN is committed to ensuring rehabilitation nurses are represented locally, regionally, and federally in support of its mission of advocating for rehabilitation nurses. ARN has been a member of NOA for 17 years.

"NIWI attendees will be addressing issues around the nursing workforce, nursing research, and why nurses are a vital voice. Through NIWI, nurses will gain the skills and confidence needed to meet with their legislators, build connections, and begin to make a difference through advocacy," said Laura Singler, CAE, account executive at NOA. "We are very pleased that ARN, as a member of the Nursing Organizations Alliance, is supporting the NIWI program by providing scholarships to ARN members. This is a powerful demonstration of ARN's support of its members as well as the value of advocacy."

ARN congratulates Steinebach and Salas and thanks this year's diverse and accomplished scholarship applicants. Members interested in participating in next year's conference are encouraged to apply in the next scholarship cycle, whether they are new or repeat applicants. Learn more online about ARN's advocacy work or the NIWI conference.

'A Passion to Advocate': Yvette Salas, Miami FL

Yvette Salas, one of this year's ARN NIWI Scholarship recipients, is a health educator at Encompass Health in Miami, FL. She earned her master's degree in nursing, with a specialty in health care policy, from Chamberlain University in 2020. She sidelined her dreams of working in advocacy to protect staff and patients during the pandemic, shifting her focus to infection prevention in the rehabilitation environment.

"I feel honored and super excited to have been chosen to attend NIWI," Salas said. "I have always had a passion to advocate for patient-care improvements. Attending NIWI means I will get to put my passion into actual work. I want to advocate for improved rehabilitation time, improved coverage of holistic approaches to pain management, and increased nursing staff benefits through federally and state-funded programs like tuition repayment and homeownership programs."

A member of the ARN Florida Chapter since 2018, Salas doesn't shy away from her appreciation of ARN's benefits, from networking opportunities and knowledge-building conferences to encouragement for policy activities and local chapters "to make changes on the home front." This scholarship has been added to that list.

Salas plans to use the training and insights she gains through NIWI to engage in state-level advocacy and to benefit ARN. "I recently earned an appointment on the ARN Health Policy Committee, and I hope to use my NIWI knowledge to assist the committee in advancing the practice of rehabilitation care. I hope to make ARN proud for giving me this opportunity to grow." 

'Fired Up': Nanci Steinebach, Lowell, MI 

Nanci Steinebach, the additional scholarship recipient, is the director of care management at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, and the president of ARN's West Michigan Chapter. She was familiar with NIWI from her time as a chapter board member with the Case Management Society of America, but she hadn't been able to take part in the conference.

"I was that chapter's public policy chair, and I always wanted to go to this event in Washington, DC," Steinebach said. "I hope to improve knowledge and make connections, specifically. I would love our senators and representatives to get to know me and know what is important to our patients and our profession."

Steinebach said she was pushed to apply by a line running through her head from "Lose Yourself," the first No. 1 hit song in the U.S. from rapper and fellow Michiganer Eminem: "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime"

Now that she's seizing her opportunity, Steinebach hopes NIWI helps her become more comfortable and confident in sharing her knowledge. "People need to know the reality of what nurses and patients are faced with in today's healthcare environment. I have been politically active at a state level on issues of auto no-fault reform, concussion education in sports, and helmet repeal laws in Michigan," she said. Her activism at the state level hasn't led to legislative outcomes she hoped, but Steinebach isn't deterred: "What gets you fired up is to keep trying."

ARN is providing Steinebach with a tremendous opportunity, she said: "ARN is and always has been my main professional organization throughout my career. ARN is full of wonderful people that represent what we do every day and what we believe in."

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