The Board of Directors of the National Nursing Network Organization received the following letter that was written urging Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04) to introduce legislation to establish an Office of the National Nurse in the 111th Congress. This communication was initiated by Molloy College graduate nursing student Roberta Schieda BSN, RN and has been signed by over 80 graduate nursing students and distinguished nursing faculty. Ms. Schieda and many of those signing the letter below are constituents of Congresswoman McCarthy.
A review of literature about lobbying techniques reveals that personal letters written by constituents are often very effective. Therefore, we thank Roberta, her peers, and the faculty of Molloy College for taking the initiative to write and send the following letter:
Dear Congresswoman McCarthy,
We commend your strong advocacy for the nursing profession and health care reform. We are writing today to urge you to reintroduce legislation to establish an Office of the National Nurse for prevention in the first session of the 111th Congress. As nurses, healthcare workers, and consumers who live in your Congressional District, we are all too aware that our healthcare system is in a time of crisis and requires fixing. Most of the public is expressing their support for prevention to be a part of the solution and we believe it is time for the nursing profession to have representation at the nation's healthcare table especially since health promotion is such an important component of every nurse's daily practice. Prevention is known to be the best way to contain health care costs, improve the overall health of individuals and build stronger communities.
We concur with current thinking of over 50 national and state organizations** who have signed on their support to Have Congress designate the existing Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the US Public Health Service (who also serves as the Assistant Surgeon General) to e elevated to a full time position within the Office of the Surgeon General and be officially titled the National Nurse for prevention. The proposed role of the National Nurse would include the following:
• Assist in the initiation of a nationwide cultural shift to prevention.
• Bolster efforts to focus the public on healthy living.
• Publicize and intensify roles for nurses, including students and retirees, in community health promotion.
• Provide greater support tot he Surgeon General in calling for improvements in health literacy and reduction in health disparities.
• Encourage all nurses to spread prevention messages in their communities.
• Encourage participation of nurses in Medical Reserve Corps units.
• Provide leadership to network with existing volunteer health promotion efforts.
• Strengthen linkages with providers, nursing programs, and public health leadership.
• Serve as a visible national spokesperson for professional nursing.
• Increase public awareness of nursing roles and contributions.
• Enhance nursing recruitment and education throughout all communities.
• Support and justify additional funding for nursing education, research and service.
We believe creating an Office of the National Nurse would set a new standard for a more accurate positive portrayal of nursing's importance to health and healthcare in the United States. Nurses are on the forefront in hospitals, schools, and in the community. We are compassionate, well-educated, empathetic individuals with a strong desire to educate and treat the public.
If our government enthusiastically and publicly embraced nursing, making its crucial contributions clearly evident, perhaps the public and media would have a greater understanding of and appreciation for the unlimited ways nursing positively impacts the health of our nation. Nurses outnumber physicians three to one and therefore represent the nation's largest workforce in healthcare. Nurses provide an immeasurable service to the community and nation in whole. Findings from nursing research have had significant impact on improving the health oft he nation. We serve as advocates for those in need and are highly trusted by the public. The Office of the National Nurse could provide a strong, stabilizing voice that can work to positively influence the healthcare of our nation.
As your constituents, we want you to know that we strongly support the establishment of the Office of the National Nurse, and we would be honored to have you sponsor this piece of legislation. We will look forward to learning your plans for introduction.
Roberta Schieda, BSN, RN
Massapequa Park, NY 11762
and over 80 distinguished nurse educators and nursing graduate students from Molloy College in New York
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Tuesday, May 19, 2009