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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

An Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Pictured: First Lady Michelle Obama
February 3, 2010

Dear Mrs. Obama,

Your initiative to combat childhood obesity is commendable and one that supports this year’s theme for National Nurses Week - Nurses: Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow. Nurses across the country fully support all efforts to attain a healthier nation. And we, the Board of Directors of the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) believe that focusing on health awareness among our youth is key. We are a non-profit organization of grassroots nurses devoted to informing the nation about the critical need for an Office of the National Nurse.

As you know, nurses are well versed and educated on what it takes to lead healthy lives. As you recall your own experiences as a mother, there may be several instances when nurses provided you with messages that helped you and your loved ones stay well. The first meaningful contact a person born in the U.S. typically has, besides their parents, is with a nurse. It is the labor and delivery nurse who first teaches the mother-to-be about the importance of breastfeeding. Later, when the new mom is transferred, the postpartum nurse is responsible for teaching and educating parents about the importance of the baby's nutrition and care as well as the care of the mom and even the dad. Listening to the teachings of a postpartum nurse often makes the difference between successful or unsuccessful parenting.

Throughout an individual's life cycle, nurses have numerous opportunities to teach health promotion during routine and “sick” visits to their healthcare providers. And nurses outnumber physicians by a ratio of three-to-one. Add to that the fact that nurses are among the most trusted professionals in the nation, and it is clear that the nursing profession is perfectly postured to partner with you to reach high goals related to childhood nutrition.

Only one thing stands in the way of having the nursing voice heard and truly valued. That obstacle is the image of nursing. Unfortunately, nurses have to overcome powerful negative images that come from the media. Many of these images portray nurses as handmaidens to physicians, rather than as professionals with their own licenses who collaborate care with physicians, for the patient's wellness.

We as nurses would like a solid partnership with you. And we believe we have an idea that is innovative, effective, and perhaps these days most importantly, cost-effective. We need a National Nurse! We are not asking for the creation of another agency. Rather, a current position exists within the USPHS, the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and we believe this individual has the knowledge, expertise and skills to be recognized as the “National Nurse.”

The establishment of the Office of the National Nurse – and your endorsement of it – would go a long way toward towards achieving our goals of improving children's nutritional health and improving the public perception of nurses. A nurse alongside you and the Surgeon General would be a tremendous morale-booster for nurses. The public will benefit from nurses as national participants in ensuring the best nutritional and health education for the youngest, most vulnerable members of society.

We would be honored if you call upon us to learn more about how effective our grassroots efforts to establish a National Nurse has been since the idea was first presented in an op/ed, America's Nurse, that was published in 2005 in The New York Times. Members of our Board will be traveling to Washington DC on March 25 and 26 and would be delighted to meet with you or a member of your staff.

Alisa, Susan, Teri, and Terri
The NNNO Board of Directors

The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Wednesday, February 03, 2010  

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