Every American Needs a Nurse: The National Nurse Act of 2011 introduced in Congress
Washington D.C.-- On March 16, 2011 Congressman Anthony Weiner (NY-9), on behalf of nurses across the country, introduced The National Nurse Act of 2011 into Congress to establish a National Nurse for Public Health. HR 1119 will designate the existing position of the Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service to serve as the National Nurse for Public Health. This nurse will continue to work alongside the Surgeon General and focus on the priorities of health promotion, disease prevention, improving health literacy, and decreasing health disparities.
“Nurses play a vital role in the well-being of our country and their contributions should be recognized accordingly,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D – Queens and Brooklyn) said. “It’s important that we create a National Nurse for Public Health to help better organize our efforts to combat the many pressing health issues we face today.”
Teri Mills RN, MS, CNE, a nurse educator at Portland Community College, who serves as President of the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) introduced the concept for a National Nurse in an op/ed published in The New York Times May 2005. "Agreement abounds on the nation's need for more emphasis on prevention in our quest for social justice and improved health outcomes, and the concept of having a publicly recognized nurse leader for prevention is the basis for the movement to create a National Nurse for Public Health," said Mills. "Members of Congress agree and already eleven US Representatives have agreed to co-sponsor this legislation."
A January 2010 Gallup Poll, conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation revealed that 86 percent of those surveyed stated they would like to see nurses have more influence in promoting wellness and expanding preventive care. According to the Institute of Medicine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, more nurse leaders are needed throughout healthcare." Mills also believes that under the guidance provided by the National Nurse for Public Health, many nurses, including students and retirees, will be inspired to volunteer and advocate for prevention efforts in their local communities.
Alisa Schneider MS, RN, Vice President of the NNNO said the National Nurse could be instrumental in the fight against obesity. "Americans across the country and of all ages are struggling with obesity and its complications. With the cost of obesity projected at $300 billion per year, prevention must continue as a priority for this country. A National Nurse for Public Health would add an important voice in this discussion."
There are currently 3.4 million nurses who work on the front lines of practice in the United States healthcare system. Even though nurse are the largest group of healthcare providers in the nation, nurses hold too few positions of influence to have a national voice that is loud enough to impact the nation’s health.
Currently HR 1119 has the support of over 100 prominent organizations and nurse leaders. Four state legislative bodies (Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont) have passed resolutions urging Congress to enact legislation in order to establish a National Nurse.
If this campaign inspires you to get involved and become a part of this grassroots effort, please:
• Contact your US Representative and ask that they become a co-sponsor of The National Nurse Act of 2011.
• Write the NNNO Board of Directors (firstname.lastname@example.org) for talking points and a copy of the signatory letter (PDF).
• Publish an article about The National Nurse Act of 2011 in your organization’s newsletter to educate others about the bill.
• Request professional organizations that you belong to become an endorser of HR 1119.
• Stay updated by signing up to receive the National Nurse Newsletter
• Become a fan of the National Nurse Campaign on Facebook.
For more information please visit http://nationalnurse.org