Pictured: Laura Stokowski MSN, RN testifying before the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020
Thank you to Laura Stokowski for her testimony in support of an Office of the National Nurse. Laura was one of only two nurses testifying before the Advisory Committee on June 6, 2008.
"My name is Laura Stokowski. I am a registered nurse, and am here today to represent the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO), a grassroots organization of working nurses dedicated to refocusing our health care system on prevention.
Healthcare is in a crisis with soaring costs and rising epidemics of preventable diseases. Nurses are calling for change. We want a cultural and philosophical shift to prevention in healthcare. We want to mobilize nurses in all communities in an organized effort for health promotion and to respond to communities in need. We propose that national leadership be provided by an Office of the National Nurse.
A National Nurse will be in a unique position to unify our large and diverse nursing workforce. All nurses, regardless of specialty practice area, share the goal of promoting the health of the public. Nurses are not just there when people are sick; they can also teach people how to stay well.
A highly visible Office of the National Nurse is needed to jumpstart nationwide prevention efforts. The National Nurse will promote healthy lifestyles and environments, increase health literacy, and reduce health disparities using evidence-based interventions. A publicly recognized National Nurse will promote recruitment and retention of nurses, and support increased resources for nursing education and public health workforce programs.
The Quad Council of the Public Health Nursing Organizations (ANA, APHA Nursing, ACHNE, and ASTDN) recommends that the existing position of the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the US Public Health Service (USPHS), who also serves as the Assistant Surgeon General, be elevated to become a full time position within the Office of the Surgeon General . It is their position that this individual has the designation of US National Nurse, although that title is not widely recognized.
We propose to have Congress formally bestow the unique title of National Nurse on the CNO. This will provide the status, authority and public recognition needed to lead mass scale prevention efforts and guide the shift to a culture of prevention in US healthcare. Our goal is to elevate and enhance the Office of the USPHS Chief Nurse and to bring more visibility and understanding of the critical roles of nurses in promoting, protecting, and advancing the nation's health.
The National Nurse will continue to perform the current responsibilities of the CNO and, in addition, the NN will support the Surgeon General's focus on prevention; develop nurses as prevention messengers and community health advocates; and promote the profession of nursing. Just as nurses work in collaboration with physicians and others to meet their patient’s healthcare needs, the National Nurse will work hand-in-hand in a complementary role with the Office of the Surgeon General and other agencies providing health care services.
A National Nurse will help prioritize and deliver the health agenda to the nation by complementing government services and utilizing existing resources and networks already in place (i.e., Medical Reserve Corps, Parish Nurses, American Heart Association, Diabetes Association, Cancer Society, etc.) The Office of the National Nurse will encourage volunteerism of nurses, nurse retirees, and student nurses within these existing health promotion frameworks. The National Nurse will support PH nursing leaders in all states to build collaborative partnerships and strengthen existing prevention networks.
As a group nurses have enormous potential to improve the health of this nation. Led by a National Nurse, nurses will select interventions designed to achieve Healthy People 2010 goals. Shining a light on the abilities of nurses to organize and lead prevention efforts will serve to recruit and retain nurses and enhance the profile of the nursing profession.
We believe that creating an Office of the National Nurse is a way to bring attention to nursing, to instill pride and to recruit new nurses. But most importantly, it is a way to achieve better health for the citizens of this country by effectively utilizing nurses to improve health outcomes."
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Monday, June 16, 2008