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The National Nursing Network Organization continues to receive correspondence from students who are completing Master’s Degree, DNP, and PhD nursing programs from across the country. These nurses are enrolled in nursing leadership and health policy courses and have chosen to write about HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011.
Shevaun German BSN RN from Massachusetts is pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree. She learned about the proposal for a National Nurse for Public Health and chose this issue as the theme of her comprehensive paper for the course titled The Legal Environment. Here is some of what Shevaun wrote:
It is well known that United States health care system is struggling due to increasing costs and epidemics of chronic preventable diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are preventable diseases that must be addressed through health promotion and wellness programs.
Nursing desperately needs to re-establish its leadership and one way is through increasing the visibility of a prominent, educated, and experienced nurse. Presently the U.S. has epidemics of preventable diseases that require educating the public in order to make a profound improvement in the health of citizens. The U.S. can no longer go on the same course that it is on. Childhood obesity is an example of the dangerous course in which the US health is headed. Through health promotion, an improved understanding of health and disease processes will narrow the gap of health disparities.
Many in nursing are calling for a National Nurse for Public Health to address these concerns. To prevent duplication of service and also redundancy, it is being proposed through HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011, that the Chief Nurse Officer of the Public Health Service (PHS) be additionally known as the National Nurse for Public Health.
The National Nurse for Public Health will partner with the Surgeon General, making health promotion a strong component within the PHS. The current CNO, a part-time position, will transition to a full time position and will continue to support the Surgeon General’s mission, with more emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention.
Nurses make up the majority of health professionals who carry out public health initiatives, as they are the largest sector of the healthcare workforce and outnumber physicians by 4 to 1. However, nurses are not well represented in public health policy discussions. For instance, there was no nursing presence on the Healthy People 2020 Task Force.
The IOM/Future of Nursing Report and the American Nurses Association are calling for more nurse leaders. Nurses must continue to advocate for a National Nurse for Public Health; it is imperative for nurses to unite to strengthen their voice for the future of our nation’s health.