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Recently, The Guardian Express published a news story about H.R. 485, The National Nurse Act of 2013. The piece, Prevention is the Key to Wellness, National Nurse Act 2013 Proposed discusses the bill now in Congress that will help promote prevention with a national advocate at the helm, the Chief Nurse Officer of the Public Health Service.
Besides designating the Chief Nurse Officer to be the National Nurse for Public Health, the reporter writing this article thoroughly discusses the duties of this nurse leader that include providing leadership, serving as a national spokesperson, and promoting volunteerism. Cranfield identifies that the health of Americans is on the decline, and the key could be prevention in many cases. She provides many examples of preventible conditions such as smoking and tobacco use, tanning beds, and obesity.
The article ends on a positive note, crediting the effective leadership of the bill's chief sponsor, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30). Cranfield states, "Widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress, Congresswoman Johnson is an advocate for children and families. She is credited with authoring and co-authoring more than 150 bills passed into law."
H.R. 485 is clearly gaining momentum as noted by the recent support of the West Virginia Nurses Association Nurses Association along with 136 organizations and prominent individuals who have endorsed the Act.
The National Nursing Network Organization’s Board of Directors and Advocacy Team returned to Washington DC last month to advocate for S. 1475 and H.R. 485, The National Nurse Act of 2013. The team included nurses and supporters from Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, and West Virginia. Below includes several firsthand reports from this trip.
Shevaun German BSN, RN (Maryland)
I took a Health Care policy class in graduate school that inspired me to get involved. This class taught me how to contact politicians and voice my concerns. I learned that it is much easier than one thinks to voice concerns to our Senators and Representatives. We live in an age where getting involved is easier than ever, through websites, and email you can voice your concerns at a touch of a button. I was taught that public welfare is the concern of everyone. We must keep the pressure on our elected officials by holding them accountable. If you have a complaint get involved and become part of the solution.
For those nurses who are thinking about participating in a lobbying trip I say go for it! It is empowering to vocalize our concerns along side nurses from across the U.S. with the common goal of promoting public health. I was surprised by how friendly the staff members were. I was nervous the first few times and then I realized that they were there to listen to our concerns. The most challenging part of this visit is being brave enough to attend. Lobbying is a foreign skill for many nurses. However, it is much easier than some of the tasks we manage at the bedside. Therefore, I urge nurses to get out of their comfort zone and get involved!
Debbie Orre MSN, RN (Massachusetts)
Going to DC never fails to inspire me! I came away feeling encouraged and excited, not only by how awe inspiring it is just to be there doing what we are doing, not also by all the intelligent and motivated women I was able to work with on this important issue.
State Representative Marcia Moody (New Hampshire)
My favorite part of the trip was meeting all the dedicated nurses who believe so strongly in promoting education and prevention that they would take the time in their busy schedules to make the trip to Washington, DC on their own dime to further the cause of the National Nurse for Public Health Bill, which is a grassroots initiative.
Audrey Bayer BNS, RN, PCCN-C (New Jersey)
I am inspired by an opportunity to make a mark in (nursing) history; visualizing the end result that the CNO of USPHS will also be know as National Nurse for Public Health. The highlight of the trip to DC was meeting with the current Chief Nurse Officer-RADM Kerry Paige Nesseler.
I learned that the USPHS Federal Public Health Service Nursing Strategic Plan for 2012 - 2016 is accessible to the public via website. Every nurse should be aware of these goals and learn how they can help implement them. I will continue to encourage others to reach out to Congressional and Senate representatives to request their co-sponsorship and support by signing onto the bills H.R. 485 and S. 1475. Yes, you too can make a difference!
Robin Kimmel BSN, RN, CCM, CPHM (Oregon)
When nurses from all over the country come together for a common goal, it is inspiring and rewarding. This team of independent yet likeminded nurses believe that a National Nurse for Public Health is in the best interest of the country and can improve the health of all Americans. This is a common goal for individuals who support H. R. 485 and S. 1475 to create a win-win environment that will assure the future of nurses and advance the objectives of health promotion and disease prevention in America, and provides real solutions for the challenges of the current healthcare issues.
Becky Bowers Lanier EdD, MSN, RN (Virginia)
On August 27th, I had the pleasure of participating with the National Nursing Network Organization, visiting the offices of members of Congress, including my own, Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia. What an energetic, committed group of women advocating on behalf of the National Nurse Act! Since Nightingale, nurses have worked diligently to protect and improve the public’s health. If passed and signed into law, the National Nurse for Public Health (AKA the Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service) will help galvanize nurses to improve the public’s health. Thanks for letting me “hang” with you all for the day!
Katie Hall BSN, RN-BC (West Virginia)
My usual morning …Up at 4 am, workout, coffee, breakfast, shower, and off to work to the locked unit where I spend 40 hours a week caring for our Veterans who deal with PTSD, TBI, or any number of mental health issues. Except today was different, still up early, but today I put on a suit and dress shoes as opposed to the usual scrubs and comfortable tennis shoes, gathered my folder of information on S. 1475 and H.R. 485 the National Nurse Act of 2013, kissed my husband goodbye, set my GPS and was off on a two hour journey to Capitol Hill.
I was excited to see my colleagues on the Advocacy team of the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO), a group of amazing, dynamic women of all ages brought together by a shared profession and common goal to see a National Nurse for Public Health lead nurses in proven programs of disease prevention and wellness. Meeting with the advocacy team was nothing short of inspirational, the response received from the offices of legislators and health policy aides was optimistic and supportive, you could feel the positive and cohesive energy. The dedication of NNNO and the Advocacy team and the excitement and passion for this bill was apparent and contagious as you could visualize the energy spill over on to the policy makers with whom we discussed the bill.
The day came to a close too soon. I am now anxiously anticipating the next time we get together while I continue to contact local policymakers and collaborate with members of the Advocacy Team to raise support for this important and significant piece of legislation. The National Nurse Act of 2013 has tremendous potential for improving the health of our citizens and engaging our nation’s nurses in the effort!
Pictured: Anne Llewellyn RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRN; Representative Karen Bass (CA-37); and Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE
There are currently 77 House Congressional co-sponsors for H.R. 485, The National Nurse Act of 2013. Thank you to Representatives Jim Costa (CA-16); James P. McGovern (MA-2); Karen Bass (CA-37); Brian Higgins (NY-26); Jim McDermott (WA-7); and Niki Tsongas (MA-3) who signed on. With the additional co sponsorship of these six members, H.R. 485 now enjoys the support of 1/6th of the House of Representatives. This is quite a feat considering how challenging it is proving to pass any legislation in the 113th Congress.
As we continue to transition into a wellness model for health care and leave the sick model behind, we have to change our focus. In doing so we prioritize prevention and proactive measures to improve our health status and that of our patients.
Our job as nurses will continue to include more and more patient education and holistic care. Not only will we continue to educate patients about their current health status and diseases, but we will focus heavily on preventing disease and complications in order to improve outcomes and general health status.
A National Nurse for Public Health will help to set the tone and lead the charge to improve how we do this with better tools, shared information and as an example to all. The National Nurse will be the visible leader for the profession and help to elevate nurses in the eyes of patients who already trust us more than any other profession.”