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The World Health Organization (WHO) has commemorated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” to memorialize the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. Within the United States and around the world, nurses fulfill a vital leadership role in transforming health. At the beginning of the 116th Congress, Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-D) and Peter King (NY-R) reintroduced the National Nurse Act (HR 1597), to enhance preventive health by designating the Chief Nurse Officer, an existing position in the U.S. Public Health Service, as the National Nurse for Public Health. This position would provide a publicly visible nurse leader who would collaborate with health care leaders to address health disparities and set goals of better public health.
The National Nurse Act provides an opportunity to (a) bring forth the significant and trusted voice of the nurse to the ongoing conversation about health and health care in America; (b) in effect, deliver a unified, prominent message of preventive health at a time when millions of Americans, including millions of children, live without health insurance or access to regular primary care; (c) be an authoritative visible presence to advocate for public health issues; (d) set a new standard for a more accurate and realistic recognition of nursing’s importance to health and health care in the United States; and (e) engage and inspire increased participation of nurses and other health professionals (including students and retirees) in prevention to include replicating successful health promotion activities in their own local communities.
Nurses comprise the largest percentage of the US healthcare workforce, with over 3.8 million members. Also noteworthy is a recent Gallup poll that revealed for the 18th consecutive year, nurses represent the most trusted profession. The public recognizes that nurses lead with integrity and honesty.
The National Nurse Act of 2019, H.R. 1597 and S. 696, continues with strong momentum. HR 1597 boasts 219 bipartisan cosponsors, and S. 696 currently has 18 Senators cosponsoring. A National Nurse for Public Health unifies and illuminates the trusted voice of the nurse to improves America’s health and healthcare.
Join the National Nursing Network Organization and the 113 endorsing organizations and key statekholders in celebrating the “Year of the Nurse,” America’s most ethical professional, through recognition of a National Nurse for Public Health. Visit the National Nursing Network organization website to learn about simple ways to join this powerful movement today.