Implementing a National Nurse was an idea that many believed was ahead of its time when it was first published in The New York Times in May 2005. And today, with healthcare in the limelight, a National Nurse to attract attention to prevention makes even more sense.
That is why Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced HR 4601 into the U.S. House of Representatives. This Bill is called, “The National Nurse Act of 2010” and, Congressman Blumenauer believes, “Establishing a full-time National Nurse is an important way to make heard the voices of thousands of dedicated nurses across the nation.”
A handful of hard-working grassroots nurses that comprise the Office of the National Nurse Network are responsible for making our legislators, the public, and the media take notice of a common sense approach to health and wellness. These nurses have a strong following of nurses who believe that a National Nurse should become a reality in our lifetime because nurses are accessible, educated, and trusted.
Nurses comprise the largest sector of healthcare providers, outnumbering physicians by four to one. They know first-hand that our nation has been providing sick care, not health care. They see devastation caused by poor nutrition and an absence of disease prevention. And since poll after poll indicates that nurses are well-liked and trusted, it is time to utilize them to do what they do best: educate with heart! Who better to engage nurses in national wellness and prevention goals than a National Nurse?
There is no need to reinvent the wheel as far as policy is concerned. A governmental position within the US Public Health Service currently exists that includes some of the duties proposed for the National Nurse to undertake. But the title of that position is, “Chief Nursing Officer” (CNO). That title does little to enlighten the public. It is a title that is shared by many hospital and community nursing leaders. Just like the Surgeon General title is unique and gives the public the perception that physicians are worthy of a place at the highest level of our democracy, so will the title, “National Nurse” give importance to nurses across the country – whether they are serving at the bedside or educating groups about matters of the body, mind, and spirit.
Nurses have the expertise, skills, and desire to improve our nation's health. Giving one nurse the title of “National Nurse” would give nurses across the country, societal visibility and credibility. These two factors can incite both nurses to teach, and public to listen; a synergistic recipe for success, that fits in perfectly with the 2010 theme from the American Nurses Association - Nurses: Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow.
The time is now to envision the possibilities of health and wellness by a profession that is ready to serve, and that includes an Office of the National Nurse.
By Lillian Gonzalez BSN, RN
Nurses, please leave a comment below sharing your thoughts about implementing a National Nurse!
For current information about the progress of establishing an Office of the National Nurse and to see the list of the dozens of international, national, and state organizations and legislative bodies who endorse the initiative, please visit: http://nationalnurse.org/.