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Friday, May 29, 2009

To Better Inform You-The Office of the National Nurse Initiative

The NNNO Board of Directors has recently heard from many nurses and interested stake holders who are just learning about the Office of the National Nurse Initiative. We encourage everyone to read the article, Nurses and The Public Say It's Time for Change that was published in Medscape Nurses last July. There is also a Frequently Asked Question link on our Home Page.

Here is a brief explanation of the Office of the National Nurse Initiative:

The National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) recognizes the current window of opportunity to strengthen the delivery of prevention education and highlight the nurse's role in our healthcare system. We are excited to hear leaders of the Public Health and Prevention subgroups for healthcare reform share this vision. The NNNO proposal for an Office of the National Nurse brings nurses to the forefront as the deliverers of the message of prevention to every American.

In a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation September 2007 newsletter, Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Senior Program Officer, states, “ Nurses have a pivotal role to play in promoting preventive care since they spend more time with patients than any other health care professional. By educating and counseling patients about the importance of simple preventive measures, nurses can have a significant impact on improving health and extending lives. The health care system needs to empower and encourage nurses for them to be effectively engaged in this role.”

The ONN initiative is focused on strengthening the work of existing groups such as the Office of the Surgeon General, the American Public Health Association, Medical Reserve Corps and community agencies through a more robust and modernized nursing leadership presence. Nurses are well positioned to provide this much needed change as they are 2.9 million strong, the most trusted of all health professionals, span all cultures, and are accomplished health educators.

The tenets of the National Nurse proposal are as follows: 

1. The Office, led by the National Nurse, is a federal position within an established health care agency. We are recommending that the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS head the Office of the National Nurse, as this is a position that currently exists and is funded, but needs to be modernized with job responsibilities shifted to primarily focus on the national and local delivery of wellness, health promotion, and illness prevention education to all Americans.

2. Enhanced community systems utilizing nurses and other healthcare providers as volunteer educators. Volunteers mobilized under the guidance of the USPHS through existing systems such as the Medical Reserve Corps would focus on delivering health promotion information in their communities. Education activities would focus on strengthening current successful practices with the goal of improving health outcomes by teaching and promoting healthier living. These efforts would also seek to reduce health disparities, which is consistent with the Surgeon General's priorities and Healthy People 2020 goals.

The original legislation to establish the National Nurse that was introduced by Rep. Lois Capps (CA-23) in the 109th Congress amassed the bi-partisan support of 42 co-sponsors. The complete list of endorsers with a link to HR 4903, the National Nurse Act of 2006, can be found at Revised future legislation will ask that Congress elevate the CNO position to full time and bestow the title National Nurse to provide the necessary visibility, prominence and legitimate power to focus the country's attention on prevention.

Supporters are committed to having an Office of the National Nurse to meet the following goals:

• Establish national leadership for prevention by elevating and strengthening the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS to make this existing position more visible to the nursing profession and the public.
• Enhance the collaborative relationship with the U.S. Surgeon General's office.
• Promote nurse involvement in the Medical Reserve Corps to improve the public health and safety of the community.
• Strengthen the use of evidence-based successful prevention strategies at the community level.
• Become a prominent recognized national symbol of professional nursing to enhance recruitment and support policies that strengthen nursing education and practice.

As the National Nursing Network Organization board members continue to connect with different nursing organizations and stakeholders, they receive positive feedback from those who are just now learning about this grassroots nursing effort to promote prevention in healthcare. Many state and national organizations have already endorsed this proposal and it has been written about in numerous publications and presented at several state and national conferences/conventions.

Visit for endorsing organizations. Resolutions urging Congress to enact legislation for an Office of the National Nurse have unanimously passed in the New York State Assembly and the Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont State Legislatures.

To learn more and to receive newsletter updates about this exciting grassroots nursing movement, please email

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Friday, May 29, 2009  

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