Sponsor of H.R. 1597 in the 116th Congress:
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson TX-30
Sponsor of S. 696 in the 116th Congress:
Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D)
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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.
The National Nursing Network Organization was recently highlighted in a public policy interview “Meet the Leaders: Interviews with Clinicians Acting in Policy” hosted by Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) – ElevatingHome. The broadcast features the work of Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and NNNO President Teri Mills, MS, RN, CNE-Retired in a policy dialogue that underscores the critical role of nurses in public health.
Check out this engaging webinar and share with it with your colleagues and peers.
As the first registered nurse elected to Congress, Representative Johnson notes “The nurse’s place is to make sure that they have input on the policy that affects them or any patient. Her work as a nurse and public servant has led Representative Johnson to cosponsor the National Nurse Act of 2019 – H.R. 1597, S. 696 . Representative Johnson notes that the National Nurse Act offers the perfect outlet for strengthening the voice of nurses in public policy.
Reiterating the critical need for the bill, NNNO President Teri Mills sites the growing prevalence and burden of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, mental health illness, opioid usage, measles outbreaks, and the ever growing e-cigarette epidemic in America today. There is well documented evidence that shows there is unequal burden across racial and economic lines. These types of preventable conditions are only expected to rise, with accompanying astronomical costs.
America’s health remains in crisis. Fortunately, nurses are well positioned to improve our nation’s well-being through prevention. The National Nurse Act seeks to designate the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health to elevate the role of nursing in leading health promotion and prevention. With 4 million members, the nursing profession is the largest segment of the nation’s healthcare workforce; nurses outnumber physicians by more than four-to-one. Public polls have ranked nurses in first place for trust and ethics for seventeen consecutive years. When nurses speak, the public listens. Nurses are skilled at assessing needs and encouraging behaviors that promote health and slow disease progression. Many nurses are bilingual and bicultural, and able to translate medical jargon into culturally sensitive messages that can be better understood. This will improve health literacy and reduce health disparities at the same time. Nurses are familiar with existing resources, and can encourage collaborative partnerships with other healthcare disciplines, public health departments, and community based organizations.
But the most important reason that nurses are prepared to lead is that health promotion and prevention is the cornerstone of every nurses practice regardless of their specialty or practice setting.
Join Representative Johnson, VNAA and nurses across the nation in support of a National Nurse for Public Health today. Visit the National Nursing Network Organization's website for simple ways to join the movement.
In her article published in Elite Learning titled “A Clarian Call for Nurses to Join Forces with the National Nurse for Public Health,” NNNO Board Member, Anne Llewellyn, MS, BHSA, RN-BC, CCM, CRRN synthesizes the critical role of a National Nurse for Public Health. Llewellyn underscores how a National Nurse for Public Health would guide efforts targeting social determinants of health to better address root causes of chronic illness. “The National Nurse Act of 2019 is a way for nurses to lead a sea change and address many of the issues contributing to the challenges the country is facing in healthcare,” states Llewellyn.
Llewellyn calls upon nurses and other healthcare professionals who have questions or concerns and the National Nurse Act to evaluate the simple, unifying language of the legislation. Llewellyn cogently summarizes, “Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and together we can do so much. Isn’t it time that nurses used their voice to advocate for the cornerstone of our practice–health promotion and prevention- regardless of our educational background, practice setting, or specialty?” Under the bill, the Chief Nurse Officer retains their current role and responsibilities. The recognition as a National Nurse for Public Health will enhance nursing leadership while supporting the entire multidisciplinary USPHS structure.
Don't miss NNNO Board member Anne Llewellyn’s up close and personal view from her day on Capitol Hill, meeting with key policy staff of US Senators and Representatives. Anne’s first-hand account includes information about how these visits are set up and what transpired during her meetings. She concludes by identifying these 10 tips to support the National Nurse Act:
1. Get to know the National Nursing Network Organization and the National Nurse Act of 2019.
2. Visit the website and click around to the various pages so you can see what the Bill is about and how you can support this legislation with your members of Congress.
3. Under the Take Action Tab, you can find how to contact your U.S. Representative and Senators.
4. There are also sample letters and scripts you can use when you reach out to your Representative and Senators to let them know you support the National Nurse Act.
5. Your voice is critical to getting members of Congress to support the Bill. They are more likely to support the bill when they hear from YOU, their constituents.
6. It only takes a few minutes to call your Representative/Senator.
7. When you call the office of a member of Congress be aware the person who answers the phone will ask you for your name and what you are calling about. They have to have this information as they need to record all calls and what they are about. Give them your name, your phone number and that you want to let the member know you support the National Nurse Act and that you are asking for their boss to cosponsor it.
8. If you are calling a member in the House of Representatives, the bill you will refer to is H.R. 1597.
9. When you call your U.S. Senator’s office, refer to the bill as S. 696.
10. The House and Senate bills are identical. This is bipartisan legislation so we are looking for Democrats and Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to cosponsor the Bill.
The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) recently showcased the progress of the National Nurse for Public Health in a webinar featuring NNNO president Teri Mills. During this short video, Mills shares an overview of the progress being made for the National Nurse Act of 2019 while emphasizing the critical importance of nurse advocacy is to advancing public health.
Check out this compelling webinar today to learn more about the National Nurse Act and please share this information with your colleagues.