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Thursday, May 17, 2007

PHN Susan Sullivan Goes to Washington

Taken at the US Department of Health and Human Services Offices in Maryland. (Left to Right) Susan Sullivan MSN, PHN (OC Public Health Nurse), Teri Mills MS, RN, ANP, CNE (President, National Nursing Network Organization), Capt David Kelly (US Public Health Service Chair of PAC-N ), Rear Admiral Carol Romano (Asst. U.S. Surgeon General and Chief Nurse of US Public Health Service),  Alisa Schneider MSN, RN (Secretary, National Nursing Network Organization), Rear Admiral Robert C. Williams (US Surgeon General Chief of Staff).

Susan Sullivan, MSN (Senior Public Health Nurse and Public Health Training Coordinator in Public Health Community Nursing Services) joined nurse colleagues Teri Mills RN, MS, ANP, CNE and Alisa Schneider, RN, MSN, leaders of the National Nursing Network Organization who spoke at the Orange County Employee Association last year.  Their lobbying trip to Washington, DC was late in March as they continued the campaign to create an Office of the National Nurse. 

Sullivan writes, "I have been a nurse for over 40 years, and I think this is the most important legislation regarding nursing I have seen.  Nursing needs a visible symbol to help raise visibility and prestige to combat the shortage of nurses.  Leadership at the national level will not only improve recruitment into nursing, but can harness the nation's large nurse workforce to lead the way to create a culture of prevention in health care. Nurses participating on community based teams under the leadership and guidance of a National Nurse could change our culture, and lead the nation to a new philosophy with a focus on prevention in our healthcare system."

This was my first foray into the political process and what an introduction! I felt such pride in this effort by nurses and saw firsthand the continued support and enthusiastic leadership of this grass roots campaign."

Susan says she experienced an adrenaline high due to the excitement of being at the Capitol, and visiting the actual offices of so many U.S. Congressmen and women. But the clincher was seeing the existing support for this initiative, sensing how the staffers received the National Nurse Team informational packets, and how they spent their valuable time meeting with the delegation. The Legislators' interest is confirmed by their comments and their sense of awareness of the significance of this initiative.  She states, "The staffers and congressional members truly grasp the potential nurses have to make a significant contribution to public health, by teaching prevention and to generate positive outcomes in the health care system. The good work that nurses quietly do everyday to become the most trusted profession and to make a difference in people's lives is recognized and valued by Congress. That is so good to know!"

A highlight of the visit was a lengthy meeting with Rear Admiral Carol Romano, Chief Nurse, USPHS and Rear Admiral Robert Williams, Chief of  Staff to the US Surgeon General.  Her meeting with them convinced her that they too see how local teams of volunteer nurses, with leadership from a National Nurse, could make a real difference in improving health in communities nationwide.

Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23), introduced HR 4903 to create an Office of the National Nurse in the 109th Congress.  Susan had visited with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in her Garden Grove Office last fall, and Sanchez enthusiastically added her support to HR 4903.  More than 40 U.S. Representatives have signed on to co-sponsor the initiative since then. Current plans are to revise some aspects of the legislation and re-introduce it into the 110th session.    Susan says, "Hopefully there will be a National Nurse in our future to serve as a professional role model and beacon to attract young people to nursing and other health professions.”

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Thursday, May 17, 2007  

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