National Nurse Act Moves Forward

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National Nurse Act Moves Forward

House and Senate bills gain cosponsors

By Working Nurse
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The National Nurse Act of 2015 is gaining support in both houses of Congress. It was introduced in the House last January by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, RN, BSN, MPA (D-Texas), and in the Senate last May by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.).

The duties of the national nurse for public health would include promoting nursing workforce development and offering “guidance and leadership” in the areas of public health promotion, disease prevention, public safety, emergency preparedness and nursing education.

The national nurse would also act as the official voice of U.S. nursing at the international, federal, state and local levels. In short, the national nurse would play the same role for nursing that the surgeon general currently plays for medicine.

Is Your Congressperson Onboard? (Your Senators Aren’t)

The House version of the bill, H.R. 379, seems to be gathering steam. The bill has gained 12 cosponsors since the beginning of 2016, bringing the current total to 77 — including 10 from California.

The Senate version, S. 1205, has made slower progress. However, three additional cosponsors have signed on since Working Nurse’s last update. Neither California senator has yet cosponsored the bill.

The legislatures of Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Vermont have urged the passage of this legislation, which is strongly supported by the American Nurses Association, National Federation of Nurses and the National Nursing Network Organization.

You can read the full text of the bills and follow their progress at You can also use that site to look up contact information for your members of Congress if you’d like to offer your views.

Photo above: Last year, members of the National Nursing Network Organization met with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, RN, BSN, MPA (center, in blue) to thank her for her leadership on this issue.

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