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Registered nurse Robin Kimmel from Oregon who supports The National Nurse Act wrote a paper about the need for a National Nurse for Public Health. The following are excerpts from this.
"It is an exciting time to be in the nursing profession because the future of nursing is evolving rapidly. Nurses are in a position to lead change and advance care because nurses represent the largest healthcare workers with more than three million members. In order to improve health care and reduce healthcare costs in the United States, the foundation of the healthcare system must focus on disease prevention, health promotion and wellness and chronic illness management (Chaffee, Mason, & Leavitt, 2011).
According to the 2009 report from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), chronic diseases affect approximately 133 million Americans. The PFCD (2009) reported that chronic diseases are often preventable and are responsible for most of the illnesses, suffering and early deaths which ultimately lead to 70% of the deaths in America each year. The Medicare and Medicaid rising expenditures are linked to increased rates of chronic disease and contribute to approximately 18% of the gross domestic produce (PFCD, 2009).
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the IOM (2010) stated that "nurses must be full partners with physicians and other healthcare professionals in redesigning healthcare in the U.S." Yet, despite strong support and evidence identifying the nurse as important to healthcare, the nursing profession does not have a voice in healthcare policies and public health programs.
It is time for nurses to have a collective voice and be stakeholders in the future of public health and disease prevention. The process to implementing the National Nurse for Public Health begins with a policy change to the role of the existing Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the U.S. Public Health Service, within the Office of the Surgeon General being proposed by the bill HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011. The National Nurse for Public Health will continue to perform the duties being performed by the CNO, but the role would become a full time position, enhanced to include leading nurses in the efforts of protecting, promoting, and advancing the nation's disease prevention programs, developing nurses as community health advocates and promoting professional nursing. These actions would bolster state and community efforts to improve health and manage disease.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) (2001) code of ethics states, "the nurse collaborates with other health professionals and the public in promoting community, national, and international efforts to meet health needs" (provision 8). HR 3679 would combine the nursing leadership role "with all that nurses envision for a healthy America" (VanBetten, 2012).
By establishing the role of the National Nurse for Public Health, there will be a highly visible nurse who can represent the nursing profession, participate in the identification of national health priorities, give a nursing voice to public health issues and unify nurses to provide preventive healthcare (Mills, 2011). It is time to have a full time, publicly recognized leader to represent nurses on a national level."
American Nurses Association. (2001). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Retrieved from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/2110Provisions.html
Chaffee, M., Mason, D. & Leavitt, J. (2011). Chapter 1: A framework for action in policy and politics. In M. Chaffee, D. Mason & J. Leavit (Eds.), Policy & politics in nursing and health care (6th ed., pp.1-11). St. Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier.
Institute of Medicine. (2010, October). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Retrieved from http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health.aspx
Mills, T. (2011). The national nurse for public health. Retrieved from http://nationalnurse.org/
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, (2009). 2009 almanac of chronic disease. Retrieved from website: http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/sites/fightchronicdisease.org/files/docs/2009AlmanacofChronicDisease_updated81009.pdf
Van Betten, P. (2012). We Need A National Nurse for Public Health. Nevada Rnformation, 21(4), 16.