Thank you and kudos to Sandy Summers, the Executive Director of the Center For Nursing Advocacy
who wrote "Buzz Saw", an opinion piece about the National Nurse article that appeared in the Oregonian last October.
Here are some of Summers' comments that appear on the Center's website:
"The (Oregonian) piece notes that the National Nurse idea has the support of several professional organizations, including the California School Nurses Association. However, it notes that the Oregon Nurses Association (the state affiliate of the American Nurses Association) does not support the bill. Its executive director, Susan King, notes that her group has helped increase nursing school graduation rates, and worked to improve public access to care as well as nurses' working conditions. The implication seems to be that King's group is already doing plenty to resolve the nation's nursing crisis and its health care access issues, and it doesn't need this kind of help. King's view of the National Nurse idea:
It might be nice to have a visible, single person as spokesperson...We would prefer to put our energies into actions that actually produce results.
Since no one knows what resources Congress might devote to an Office of the National Nurse, the statement that the legislation will not "produce results" sounds like a general rejection of the type of public health education the bill envisions. However, generations of nurses, as well as public health figures like the Surgeon General, have done such education. King concedes that having a "visible, single" spokesperson might be "nice." In fact, nursing has few representatives with national public name recognition, in or out of government. A highly qualified, articulate representative, with the authority of the federal government behind him or her, could increase understanding of the profession.
Of course, much would depend on the size of the Office and how much funding was allocated. The likely efficacy of teams of volunteer nurses, when so many nurses are now stretched to the breaking point and beyond in their paid positions, is also debatable. The general public health mission of the National Nurse would seem to overlap somewhat with that of the Surgeon General and other public health offices. And of course, we would not want establishment of the Office of the National Nurse to be used as an excuse for failing to provide adequate government support to other vital aspects of nursing practice, education, and research.
But with some resources, the National Nurse could help educate the public about the importance of nursing to patient outcomes, as well as the roles that resource allocation and working conditions play in the nursing shortage. In addition, there is reason to believe that even a small Office of the National Nurse could raise public awareness of some key health issues, especially if it could attract media attention."
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Saturday, February 24, 2007