Obama's advisor tours Oakland and Opens Doors to Discuss Nurse Unemployment
Audrey Berman, PhD, RN, Dean and Professor of Nursing and Elizabeth Valente, Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations, attended a reception hosted by Congresswoman Barbara Lee to welcome a top consultant to President Obama, Senior Presidential Advisor for Legislative Affairs Valerie Jarrett.
Jarrett was in town during the first week of March to get a firsthand look at federal stimulus dollars at work in the Bay Area. Along with Congresswoman Lee, Jarrett toured dot-com companies in San Jose, her alma-mater Stanford, met with Mayor Gavin Newsom in San Francisco, and top city leaders from the East Bay. The final stop in Jarrett's tour was the breakfast reception at Scott's Seafood Restaurant in Jack London Square.
"Ms. Jarrett joked about her days at Stanford and taking BART to attend the Berkeley Jazz Festival. As she got serious, she spoke about the economy, support for education and healthcare reform," said Valente. "On behalf of President Obama, she acknowledged and expressed thanks for the hard work over the past year. She also expressed the concern for long-term unemployment."
Congresswoman Lee spoke about concerted efforts to provide jobs, education, and healthcare in Oakland. After the speeches were over, Dr. Berman had an opportunity to speak with Congresswoman Lee personally about the unemployment crisis which is affecting nursing graduates.
"I expressed to Congresswoman Lee the recent efforts the University has made to increase the number of new nurses and yet the serious current shortage of employers able to hire new graduates. The topic hits everything Jarrett was expressing," said Dr. Berman. "When I mentioned the situation, Congresswoman Lee said she was unaware of the problem and expressed interest in learning more."
Twice a year, deans of nursing schools across the country meet in Washington to visit with representatives or their staffers on Capitol Hill. "We go with handouts explaining how proposed legislation may influence our students and practitioners and with a list of 'asks' clarifying how we think they can advance our causes," said Berman. "I'm not sure most faculty - including me - are as aware of how we can influence the political process as we should be. But I know we are taking steps in the right direction."
Congresswoman Lee was one of a handful of Democrats at the White House earlier this month as the President courted Democrats whose votes are needed to pass his healthcare package.
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