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DURING NATIONAL NURSES WEEK, MERKLEY STANDS UP FOR NURSES WITH BIPARTISAN LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE
Bills would update nursing workforce programs and create a National Nurse for Public Health
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This National Nurses Week, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley [merkley.senate.gov] is standing with nurses in Oregon and across America by introducing bipartisan legislation to support nurses and strengthen the nursing profession.
Merkley on Thursday introduced the National Nurse Act of 2017 and the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017, both with bipartisan support. The National Nurse Act is co-led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act is co-led by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Merkley, whose wife works in Oregon as a registered nurse, also introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), officially honoring May 6-12 as National Nurses Week.
“As the husband of a nurse, I hear firsthand about the challenges and successes that come with working on the frontlines of our health care system,” Merkley said. “Every day, nurses take on difficult, essential, and often thankless tasks that keep our health care system running and that have a huge impact on the patient experience. Each of us has a story about the nurse who made all the difference at a frightening or difficult time for our families. I’ll keep fighting to improve federal policy to fully recognize and support the essential role of nurses in our health care system, and I invite all Oregonians to join me in recognizing the tremendous work of our Oregon nurses this National Nurses Week.”
The National Nurse Act of 2017 (S. 1106) The bipartisan National Nurse Act of 2017 would elevate the role of nurses in America’s public health by designating a National Nurse for Public Health.
The National Nurse position would be created by transforming and elevating an existing position within the U.S. Public Health Service, the Chief Nurse Officer. Similarly to the Surgeon General, the National Nurse for Public Health would help raise awareness among the American public about disease prevention and healthy living. The position would provide leadership by a publicly visible nurse who would collaborate with other health care leaders to address health disparities and set goals for improved public health. Nurses represent the largest single component of the health care profession with more than 3.3 million registered nurses. With a National Nurse for Public Health providing a uniting voice and national leadership, American nurses’ power to transform their patients’ lives and to improve public health outcomes would be even greater.
Chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and obesity pose the single greatest threat to the health of Americans and a serious threat to our nation's economy. Nurses provide key services for the prevention and management of these conditions. The National Nurse for Public Health will promote prevention; help improve outcomes; and guide national, state and local efforts in addressing the nation's health.
The National Nurse Act of 2017 is supported by the American Nurses Association, AFT Nurses and Healthcare Professionals, the Case Management Society of America and 105 other national and state nursing organizations and key stakeholders.
The National Nursing Network Organization would like to congratulate Rear Admiral (RADM) Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N on her recent appointment to Acting Surgeon General. Prior to her current role, RADM Trent-Adams served as Deputy Surgeon General, and before that as the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS from November 2013 through May 2016. RADM Trent-Adams brings experience as a highly qualified and accomplished nurse with a long record of public health advocacy. Throughout her career, she has maintained a strong focus on underserved populations. We are fortunate to benefit from her expertise as a nurse leader and public servant during the process of nomination and confirmation of a Surgeon General.
Out With the Surgeon, In With the Nurse, published last week in Medscape Nurses, describes how this historical appointment came about. Those advocating for the National Nurse Act of 2017 would like to make the National Nurse for Public Health a household name-the same as the Surgeon General.
National Nursing Network Organization President Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE was interviewed for this article. "The National Nurse Act will ensure permanence that the Chief Nurse is designated as the National Nurse for Public Health," she explained. "This increase in stature and visibility will help messages being generated by the Office of the Surgeon General reach the nation's 3.6 million nurses. This cadre of nurses can then disseminate health promotion and prevention messages within their own communities, with the vision being a decrease in health disparities and costly chronic preventable conditions that plague our nation."