Special Interest:  H.R. 1597 and S. 696

HR 1597 The National Nurse Act of 2019

Sponsor of H.R. 1597 in the 116th Congress:
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson TX-30

Original Co-Sponsors:


S. 696 The National Nurse Act of 2019

Sponsor of S. 696 in the 116th Congress:
Jeff Merkley (OR-D)

Original Co-Sponsor:


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Monday, April 22, 2019

National Nurse Act Soars Since Introduction

Thanks to the sheer determination of the leaders and supporters of the National Nurse Act of 2019, H.R. 1597 and S. 696, is off to a fabulous start. As one Congressional staffer noted, “This bill is flying since its introduction on March 7th!” The intent of the National Nurse Act is to strengthen the influence of the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the USPHS to address public health initiatives with emphasis on being a leading voice for public health for nurses and to encourage greater involvement of nurses, without any additional economic or time burden on the existing role. Advocates strongly believe the designation of National Nurse for Public Health will increase awareness among nurses and the public so that it becomes well established this nurse leader already contributes a vital role in public health, particularly focused on health promotion and prevention.

Health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, e-cigarette vaping, opioid addiction, and the measles outbreak pose threats to the health of Americans, young and old, as well as to their economic burden bankrupting our healthcare dollars. Nurses provide key services for the management of these conditions. The public views nurses as the trusted, credible messengers. As the largest sector of the healthcare workforce, our nation’s 4 million nurses are poised to lead in a national movement towards improved public health. The National Nurse for Public Health would provide the uniting voice and leadership necessary to do so.

Currently, the National Nurse Act of 2019 boasts the bipartisan support of 84 House cosponsors, 6 Senate cosponsors, and 104 endorsing nursing and healthcare organizations.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

How to Advocate for the National Nurse Act of 2019

The following article, written by NNNO Advocacy Team Member Alene Nitzky, PhD, RN, OCN appeared in Oncology Nursing News on March 20, 2019.

Dr. Nicole Barnett RN, MBA, DHSc, CNL

Pictured: Dr. Nicole Barnett RN, MBA, DHSc, CNL advocates for the National Nurse Act of 2019 on Capitol Hill

Your voice is needed to elevate the profile and visibility of nurses now. Your patients’ lives depend on it.

On March 7, the National Nurse Act of 2019 was introduced in the 116th Congress as a bill. HR 1597/S 696 calls for designation of a Chief Nurse Office of the US Public Health Service, who would be a publicly visible leader to address health disparities and set goals for better public health.

Cancer is one of the key health conditions listed in the bill’s language, as it has a massive impact on public health and our economy. Nurses provide the direct services needed to improve outcomes around chronic disease and cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and management. We educate the public on preventable risk factors, teaching them to reduce their risk. According to the National Cancer Institute, 38.4 percent of the population expected to have cancer at some point in their lives. 1 Our role in supporting this bill as oncology nurses is crucial to its success.

Elected leaders need to hear from nurses on the front lines of patient care. We are trusted, our voices matter, and we will be heard. Nurses are the voice of health promotion and we are in an ideal position to influence and lead national conversations and policy around healthcare.

There is evidence of the effectiveness of how visible leadership around cancer-related public health messages can positively impact the public’s participation in prevention efforts.2

What can oncology nurses do right now to further these efforts? Get involved.

1. Visit http://nationalnurse.org to learn more about the bill. There is link to a convenient summary at the top of the page.

2. Contact your senators and representatives in Congress right away. If you don’t know who they are, go here to find your representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

Senators for your state can be found here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

3. A simple email is a good start, but to be even more effective, gather as many nurses and citizens in your district to write them too. The more letters they get on a particular issue, the more they will pay attention. Urge them, in your letter, to co-sponsor HR 1597 (House of Representatives) or S. 696 (Senate).

4. Find out who your representative’s healthcare staffer is. Writing directly to the staff member is helpful as well; you can always copy them both on an email. This will be your main contact when you have any healthcare issue you want to bring to your Representative’s attention.

Nicole Barnett, DHSc, MBA, RN, CNL is a member of the National Nursing Network Organization Advocacy Team. She succinctly emphasizes the importance of this bill, "The prevention of chronic disease is at the core of the solution for the rising cost of healthcare in our country. Of all the important healthcare related legislative efforts currently underway, none explicitly speaks to the important role that nursing leadership plays in shaping national healthcare policy the way that the National Nurse Act does. Designating the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS as the National Nurse for Public Health is timely, appropriate and impactful.”

Your voice is needed to elevate the profile and visibility of nurses now. Your patients’ lives depend on it.


1. National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, 2013-2015 data https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html

2. Cram, P., Fendrick AM., Inadomin, J., Cowen ME., Carpenter, D., Vijan, S. 2003. The impact of a celebrity promotional campaign on the use of colon cancer screening: the Katie Couric effect. Archives Internal Medicine. 163(13). 1601-1605.

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Friday, March 08, 2019

National Nurse Act of 2019 Introduced in House and Senate

Congresswoman Johnson Introduces National Nurse Act of 2019

Mar 7, 2019 Press Release Washington, DCCongresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson today introduced the National Nurse Act of 2019. This bill, H.R. 1597, will designate the Chief Nurse Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service as the "National Nurse for Public Health." The responsibilities of the position would task the National Nurse for Public Health with identifying and addressing national health priorities.

"For years, our national healthcare policies have not helped nurses administer the best possible health care. The National Nurse Act of 2019 improves the health care of Americans across the country by appointing a National Nurse to join the Surgeon General in advocating for nurses who provide care for millions of Americans each day," said Congresswoman Johnson. "This act would empower a medical professional to focus on critical issues, such as promoting healthier practices, improving health literacy and decreasing health disparities."

The act has 52 original cosponsors in the House at the time of its introduction. It has been endorsed by more than 50 nursing and labor associations, including the National Nursing Network Organization. Companion legislation, S. 696, has also been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

"As the first registered nurse elected to Congress, I understand the unique role nurses play in our national health care system," said Congresswoman Johnson. "By supporting this bill, we not only acknowledge the benefit nurses bring to our discourse, but we are also enhancing our health care system as well."

Key Responsibilities of the National Nurse:

  • Collaborate with the Office of the Surgeon General to identify and address national health priorities
  • Serve as a visible national spokesperson for engaging nurses in leadership, policy, and prevention efforts
  • Encourage health professionals to work with community programs to improve health
  • Increase public safety and emergency preparedness
  • Prepare and submit biennial report to Congress on nurses serving in the U.S. Public Health Service


Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is serving her 14th term representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas. Congresswoman Johnson is the first African-American and woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and is the Dean of the Texas Congressional delegation in addition to serving as Dean of the Texas, New Mexico and Arizona Democratic Congressional Delegation. Congresswoman Johnson is the highest-ranking Texan on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress.

Special appreciation goes to Tonia Wu (Legislative Assistant-Rep. Johnson); Deena Tauster (Legislative Director-Rep. King); Elvia Montoya (Legislative Assistant-Senator Merkley; and Dana Richter (Legislative Assistant-Senator Capito) for their efforts and dedication in assisting with introduction of the National Nurse Act.

A link to the National Nurse Act of 2019 will be posted at http://nationalnurse.org as soon as this is available. If you would like to receive a copy of the final draft of The National Nurse Act of 2019, please email the NNNO Board.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nurse Leadership is Vital for Influenza Prevention

Influenza season is upon us, with an estimated 6-7 million people in the US sickened during 2018-2019, including up to 84,000 individuals requiring hospital care. Hospitalization marks the likelihood of adverse outcomes, including death.

Vaccination remains the best defense against flu. Influenza vaccines are safe and recommended by the CDC annually for all individuals over 6 months. In addition to protecting against flu, vaccines also lessen the severity of illness, decreasing the risk of hospitalization and death. Flu vaccines are particularly critical for protecting children, older adults and individuals with vulnerable health. It’s not too late to receive a flu vaccine this season.

A National Nurse for Public Health would lead in disease prevention and management to decrease the effects of influenza on the community. Nurses are trusted leaders in hygiene, safety and disease prevention, perfectly positioned to work alongside other health professionals on flu prevention. Join the National Nursing Network Organization in preventing flu: get a vaccine, wash your hand and stay home when you are sick. Check out the CDC for more tips on flu prevention.

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