Office of the National Nurse

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Office of the National Nurse

The effort toward an equal partnership with the surgeon general on Capitol Hill

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Nurses hold a unique position in American healthcare. Over and over, we rank among the most trusted professions. At the same time, we face acute shortages in our numbers. Meanwhile, the United States faces unprecedented pressures: disparities of care, unsustainable costs and epidemics of preventable diseases.

Could nurses help tackle some of these problems? Teri Mills, RN, MS, APN, thinks so. She first proposed the Office of the National Nurse in an Office of the National Nurseop-ed piece to The New York Times in 2005. By 2006, California Rep. Lois Capps introduced HR 4903, the National Nurse Act. Before it even came to committee the bill had gained 42 co-sponsors.

Some professional groups oppose the initiative, which would establish a visible single spokesperson for nurses. Many other grassroots nursing associations are enthusiastic; and, according to Ms. Mills, the number is growing.

The U.S. Public Health Service already has a chief nurse officer (CNO), but the position is part time and secondary to the surgeon general. Ms. Mills and supporters of the National Nurse want to expand the CNO role to an equal partnership with medicine in moving the nation toward policies of prevention, increased health literacy and promotion of healthy living. The increased visibility would enhance the position of nursing as the center of patient education and capitalize on the many different roles nurses play.

If you are interested in being part of this effort, check out the National Nursing Network Organization. You can ask for information packets for your congressional delegation and sign up for the newsletter.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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