Sponsor of H.R. 1597 in the 116th Congress:
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson TX-30
Sponsor of S. 696 in the 116th Congress:
Jeff Merkley (OR-D)
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The National Nurse Act of 2019 continues to gain strong momentum and is a testament to the strong grassroots, bipartisan support from across the nation. H.R. 1597 currently has 103 cosponsors from both sides of the political aisle. Congressional members from 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands have signed on in support. The Senate companion bill, S. 696 has 9 cosponsors.
Endorsers now include 111 national and state nursing organizations, labor, and key stakeholders. Many have written to the NNNO Board and told us that their decisions are often unanimous. One organization to recently endorse the National Nurse Act is the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA), a unified body advocating for equity and justice in healthcare. NCEMNA is composed of five national ethnic nurse associations; all five have endorsed the National Nurse Act. NCEMNA’s collaboration gives voice to 350,000 minority nurses and to the lived health experience of a constituency marginalized from mainstream health delivery systems. The NNNO is proud to have the support of this esteemed and highly regarded organization.
Those supporting the National Nurse Act realize that with a base of over 4 million professionals in the US, nurses are well positioned to lead improved public health and well-being. The National Nurse for Public Health would provide the visible leadership to guide this momentum in health advocacy. Health conditions linked to high rates of maternal mortality, opioid use disorders, Type 2 diabetes, and outbreaks of previously contained illnesses such as measles pose a threat to the health of Americans and to the financial stability of this county. A National Nurse for Public Health would help pave a clear path toward improved health for our nation.
Every voice makes a difference in supporting a National Nurse for Public Health!
The National Nursing Network Organization's Board and Advocacy Team includes over 70 members from diverse backgrounds and geographic regions. In addition to nurses, the team also includes elected state officials and healthcare advocates.
We would like to recognize the following exciting changes to our Board of Directors: Toni DiChiacchio DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP of West Virginia joined recently the Board and Holly Herrera BSN, RN, CHFN became Secretary. Cathy Lodico MS, RN, CCM from New Hampshire and Joan Westgor MSN, RN, CCM from Texas transitioned to the Board following prolonged service on our Advocacy Team.
We are thrilled to welcome the following new Advocacy Team members: Robin Cogan MEd, RN, NCSN from New Jersey; Beth Baldwin MSN, RN, PNP-BC of Delaware; Carol King MSN, RN-BC of Arizona; Travis Nelson RN, BSN, RN-BC from Oregon; Maria Luisa Gutierrez, BSN, RN, CMCN, PHN of California; Amy Heithoff BSN, RN of Missouri; Alene Nitzky PhD, RN, OCN of Colorado; Vanessa Shields-Haas MA, BSN, ACRN of Louisiana; and Adrienne Wald EdD, MBA, BSN, MCHES, CNE from New York.
We would like to thank outgoing Board and Advocacy Team members for their generous contributions: Susan Sullivan, MSN, RN; Debbie Orre MSN, RN, and Katie Hall MSN, RN-BC for their years of service on the NNNO Board of Directors. Transitioning off the Advocacy team, we thank Kathleen Bartholomew, MSN, RN; Beth Barranco RN, BSN and Phillip Bautista BSN, RN, PHN.
These past few months have been extremely busy for our Board and Advocacy Team. Thank you to team members Anne Llewellyn RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRN; Nicole Barnett, RN, MBA, DHSc, CNL and Diane Hart, President National Association for Health and Fitness for their visits to Capitol Hill. Their advocacy has helped move forward the National Nurse Act of 2019.
Our team has also been very active in the media. In an article, titled How to Advocate for the National Nurse Act of 2019, published in ”Oncology Nurse News,” Advocacy Team member Alene Nitzky, Ph.D., RN, OCN highlighted the critical role of a National Nurse for Public Health in advancing high-quality, equitable cancer care. Speaking to the value of oncology nurses in supporting the National Nurse Act, Nitzky notes “Our role in supporting this bill as oncology nurses is crucial to its success.”
Writing for the online publication Radical Nurses, Vanessa Shields-Haas, MA, BSN, ACRN, another Advocacy Team, member emphasized the National Nurse Act as a key piece of legislation posed to enhance the health and well-being of Americans.
Advocacy team member spotlight: Janet Coulter, MSN, MS, RN is a certified case manager in Cincinnati, Ohio and a passionate advocate for organ transplants. Janet’s current work explores how a revised liver organ distribution policy might disparately impact recipients from economically disadvantaged and rural communities. Through this lens, Janet has connected with the importance of a National Nurse for Public Health.
Advocacy Team member Savannah Jensen, BSN, RN, PHN, CMSRN created an infographic demonstrating the potential cost savings of $9 billion in preventing only 1% of the 84 million at risk from developing Type 2 Diabetes. Email the NNNO Board if you are interested in receiving a copy.
Congratulations to Advocacy Team member, Dr. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, DNP, PNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP for her recent recognition as the American Association of Nurse Practitioner’s, Nurse Practitioner of the Year for New York state award.
We cannot thank the NNNO Advocacy Team and Board enough for all that they do!
Just like any piece of legislation, the National Nurse Act is not immune to the spread of misinformation. The NNNO would like to address one misinterpretation that we have heard.
Myth: The focus on addressing social determinants of health as described within the proposed bill is conceptually confined to health education and individual behavior (downstream measures), which a preponderance of research has demonstrated is insufficient for achieving health equity.
Facts: The current duties and responsibilities of the Chief Nurse Officer are retained in the bill language. The USPHS Chief Nurse Officer is currently involved in initiatives that include focus on up-stream measures to address social determinants of health, partnerships and collaboration, health promotion and prevention, and disaster response and readiness. This will not change.
Further, the bill language highlights the National Prevention Strategy for identifying and addressing, implementing, and evaluating national health priorities. The National Nurse Act further states the encouragement of replication of successful health promotion/prevention programs and that evidence based practice will be used when educating the public on health promotion and disease prevention activities.
The National Prevention Strategy, released June 16, 2011, aims to guide our nation in the most effective and achievable means for improving health and well-being.
The Strategy prioritizes prevention by integrating recommendations and actions across multiple settings to improve health and save lives. The seven priorities listed include these social health determinants: tobacco free living; preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use; healthy eating; active living; injury and violence free living; reproductive and sexual health; and mental and emotional well-being.
Nurses base their practice and decision making on facts and evidence rather than hearsay or innuendo. This is because this integration of knowledge and experience allows us to deliver safer, more efficient, and effective care that leads to better outcomes for the patients, families, and communities we serve. If you would like to ask a question about the National Nurse Act or have feedback you would like shared, please contact the NNNO Board of Directors.
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.
The following article, written by NNNO Advocacy Team Member Alene Nitzky, PhD, RN, OCN appeared in Oncology Nursing News on March 20, 2019.
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.