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Thanks to the sheer determination of the leaders and supporters of the National Nurse Act of 2019, H.R. 1597 and S. 696, is off to a fabulous start. As one Congressional staffer noted, “This bill is flying since its introduction on March 7th!” The intent of the National Nurse Act is to strengthen the influence of the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the USPHS to address public health initiatives with emphasis on being a leading voice for public health for nurses and to encourage greater involvement of nurses, without any additional economic or time burden on the existing role. Advocates strongly believe the designation of National Nurse for Public Health will increase awareness among nurses and the public so that it becomes well established this nurse leader already contributes a vital role in public health, particularly focused on health promotion and prevention.
Health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, e-cigarette vaping, opioid addiction, and the measles outbreak pose threats to the health of Americans, young and old, as well as to their economic burden bankrupting our healthcare dollars. Nurses provide key services for the management of these conditions. The public views nurses as the trusted, credible messengers. As the largest sector of the healthcare workforce, our nation’s 4 million nurses are poised to lead in a national movement towards improved public health. The National Nurse for Public Health would provide the uniting voice and leadership necessary to do so.
Currently, the National Nurse Act of 2019 boasts the bipartisan support of 84 House cosponsors, 6 Senate cosponsors, and 104 endorsing nursing and healthcare organizations.