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Dear Representative Johnson:
The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) is pleased to announce its support for H.R. 485, The National Nurse Act of 2013. As a professional organization of over 8,000 members dedicated to the safe and effective practice of gastroenterology and endoscopy nursing, SGNA recognizes the importance of this bill in focusing national attention on the role of the National Nurse. Designating the Chief Nurse Officer as the National Nurse for Public Health would elevate the authority and visibility of this position, in turn spotlighting the importance of preventative efforts such as cancer screening.
An issue which this elevated position would highlight, that especially resonates with SGNA members, is the opportunity to increase awareness of colorectal cancer screenings. While colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer related cause of death in the United States, over 90% of all cases of colorectal cancer can be prevented with a thorough, widespread screening and education program. H.R. 485 will help to keep screening programs like this in the forefront by identifying a visible, credible nurse leader to advocate for enhanced prevention efforts in our communities.
We thank you for your support of this legislation and for continuing to advocate for the improvement of our nation's health.
Betty McGinty, MS, HSA, BS, RN, CGRN
Earlier this month, Medscape for Nurses published a firsthand report of the Congressional Briefing on H.R. 485 / S. 1475, The National Nurse Act of 2013 that took place on Capitol Hill February 27, 2014. Author Laura Stokowski MS, RN highlighted comments made by NNNO Director Elizabeth McPhee RN who incorporated the theme, “America is the patient and the patient is in critical condition. McPhee stresses that chronic preventable conditions, poor health literacy, and continued health disparities must be addressed. Stokowski provides an overview of the legislation concluding with her thoughts on whether the bill will succeed.
Reaction to this article has proven to be compelling as evidenced by the many comments that have been posted. Here is a small sampling of what nurses are saying:
“We have a National Doctor (Surgeon General) and even a National Poet (Poet Laureate) so why not a National Nurse? The power a designated leader of 3 million strong will have a tremendous impact on public policy and opinion and help get our nation onto a healthier track.”
“While we are singularly advocating for our patients, for our patient's health and for healthcare itself, shouldn't we also have an advocate, a representative, a leader to elevate our voice?”
“The public can identify with a “National Nurse for Public Health”. This title will help increase public awareness and understanding of the role of public health nurses, who are rapidly becoming a scarcity in our communities.”
“Preventive care is a must if we are to change the health status of our nation for the better. The National Nurse will be in the best position to encourage our nation's nurses to become involved in community health activities promoting health and wellness.”
“The public clearly considers nurses trustworthy. Nurses and the public at large would be more likely to identify with a National Nurse for Public Health. I agree with other posters who have commented on the "under the radar" status of the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO). Reframing that role would bring more visibility to the nursing focus of caring for the whole person, including health promotion and disease prevention. Of course, it is not a blanket solution to the huge health problems that our nation is facing, but it is certainly a step in the right direction! As a member of the nursing profession, a nurse educator, and a member of both the Washington State Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association, this legislation has my full support.”