On February 7, Taylor Stimmler started her day in violet scrubs at the NYU Meyers Joan Stout, RN, FAAN, Clinical Simulation Learning Center before rushing to Penn Station to catch an Amtrak to Washington, DC. She had been invited to the State of the Union by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer through her work with T1International, a non-profit that advocates for access to insulin and other diabetes supplies.
“In the United States, the problem with access to insulin is cost. This can lead people with diabetes to ration their insulin to prolong their supply, and they’re experiencing complications as a result of it,” Taylor explains.
She knows the importance of insulin firsthand. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teenager in Los Angeles, Taylor had to learn how to give herself injections and monitor her blood sugar. In fact, it was that experience that first drew her to nursing as a profession. Nurses were often the ones guiding her, whether in the hospital or answering calls around the clock on a dedicated hotline.
“When I was first diagnosed, we really depended on that resource and being able to call at 2 a.m. when I was sick or had a question. It made a really overwhelming diagnosis and disease much more manageable,” says Taylor. “The care that I received, and the impact that nurses had in helping me to cope with a chronic illness—having that support system of nurses really pushed me to pursue nursing.”
After a quick wardrobe change on the day of the State of the Union, Taylor headed to the US Capitol to speak with fellow New Yorkers and journalists about the importance of affordable insulin. During the speech that evening, she listened to President Biden discuss the need for a $35 price cap on insulin for all Americans. She was the only guest in her section with special security clearance to bring her cell phone—which alerts her if her blood sugar drops—and her bag with insulin and other supplies.
At NYU, Taylor has thrived in courses on research and health policy as well as in local clinical rotations. Following her graduation this spring, she hopes to land a position in a New York City hospital working with children, where she’ll put not only her nursing degree but also her minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies to good use. In a few years, Taylor may return to school to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, but she can also envision a future involving law school or health policy.
“As I'm getting deeper and deeper into politics, I am realizing that my true passion is fixing the American health care system and making it beneficial to all Americans,” she says. “There's still a lot of work to be done to get nurses into leadership opportunities, whether it's in hospital systems or on the government level. Nurses—who have the most patient interaction out of all the health care professions—need to have a seat at the table for these discussions.”