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Monday, February 02, 2009

A Call To Serve

Attention Daily Kos readers-- to read the Office of the National Nurse initiative in its entirety, please visit Take a look at the Endorsement and FAQ links on the Home Page as well. Thank you.

Comments made by President Barack Obama during his inaugural address have emphasized that community activism and local volunteerism will be key to confronting many of the issues facing our nation. His statements indicate we will all have to pitch in and do our part. This is why having an Office of the National Nurse will be so important, because if history is any indication, nurses will be among the first in line.

Proof that nurses volunteer and they enjoy doing it comes from a recent article published in the St Louis Post Dispatch:


Other area hospitals help keep nurses happy by recruiting volunteers — unpaid nurses with current licenses who provide an extra set of eyes, ears and hands to the nurses on staff.

St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur was one of the first in the country to give nurse volunteers responsibilities, including taking patient histories, changing bandages, checking vital signs and giving baths to patients. The volunteers don't take physicians' orders or dispense medicine.

Some of the volunteers are retired nurses, but others already have jobs and volunteer for the opportunity to give extra patient care.

Kim Lindley volunteers once a week through a program at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, the same hospital where she started her career in the 1980s. She also works part time at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, and she says volunteering keeps her happy.

"I get to do the fun parts of nursing, the parts you don't have time for (at a paying job)," she said. "It's more rewarding when it's from the heart and not the paycheck."

The Office of the National Nurse (ONN) will be able to suggest and sanction volunteer efforts by nurses. Guidance provided by the ONN will unite available nurses in every community to become involved. Nurses, functioning within their own practice setting, or within existing community service organizations, such as the Medical Reserve Corps, will be able to make many contributions to promote prevention immediately. Whether at the level of individuals and families, or at the school and community level, or across networks and systems, nurses are able to promote change for better health outcomes. The National Nurse, a strong public health career professional identified as the chief nurse of the nation, will be an excellent source of leadership on this important journey.

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Monday, February 02, 2009  

 Comments (2)

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Anonymous Anonymous 
Why should the national nurse office be within that of the surgeon general? As Mary Mundinger has so eloquently pointed out, advanced practice nurses, although they have much, much less formal education, in terms of length, difficulty and intensity, can perform at least as well as, if not better, than physicians. The national nurse should be installed in his/her own newly created office within the government and should be able to make decisions independent of the surgeon general, because it is not the prerogative of one profession to tell another how one's job should be done.

Perhaps the logo for the office could be a bed pan with a nurse wearing a lab coat with the initials "DNP" over the heart struggling, but not quite able, to reach for a lab coat with the initials "MD".
Blogger susu 
I agree that nursing is a profession in itself and capable of functioning on an equal plain with medicine. That fact will be even more evident once the National Nurse is installed to lead prevention. In these economic times change must be cost effective and build on existing networks, hence the recommendation that the CNO of the USPHS simply be increased to full time and elevated to function as the NN in the OSG. This plan does not compete for scare resources or duplicate services, so has greatest potential to be enacted. Most importantly, this plan will specifically combat the continued costly escalation of chronic diseases and morbidity, saving healthcare dollars. The large nursing workforce is a undervalued resource, and many nurses could be mobilized to participate in prevention efforts once there is a National Nurse leader offering guidance. Nurses can be the key to locally initiate the much needed philosophical and cultural shift to PREVENTION in all communities.
As a recently retired PHN, there are many ways my skills can be useful to the community. As a National Nurse volunteer, I would remain active with professional colleagues and be offered many CE opportunities. Student nurses with community service requirements could make significant contributions and gain experience in community nursing. School districts and community based organizations would welcome nurses to lead or support their evidence-based interventions to improve health outcomes. It is time to make this vision a reality, it is a win-win...I have yet to understand the resistence, as there is not much of a downside to having a National Nurse.