The National Nurse initiative has come a long way from those early days as a grass-roots initiative to appoint a visible, national nursing representative to promote healthy living and the nursing profession.
Unfortunately, some of our biggest nursing organizations don’t seem to get it.
This is NOT a new position and it WILL NOT cost the government or the taxpayers anything more than what is already funded!
So why is CNA/NNOC against it?
First, let’s take a look at where we stand now, directly from the National Nurse website:
Why is an Office of the National Nurse Needed?
To slow the growing epidemics of preventable diseases:
- Current estimates predict a 42% increase in the 7 chronic diseases.
- Risk of type II diabetes is high for more than 41 million Americans.
- $1.3 TRILLION annual economic impact of the most common chronic diseases.
- The U.S. ranks 19th in preventable deaths.
Promote health awareness, increase health literacy, and reduce health disparities:
- Only 31% of Americans can name all 5 heart attack warning signs.
- Ninety million Americans have poor health literacy resulting in higher mortality.
- Death rates from stroke are 40% higher in African American adults compared to Caucasian adults.
To promote health careers and increased resources:
- Severe nursing shortages are projected to continue.
- Public health workforce needs are critical.
- Public health infrastructure must be strengthened.
To enhance visibility and public recognition of nursing:
- Raise awareness of diverse careers in nursing.
- Demonstrate nursing leadership and autonomy.
- Encourage youth to explore careers in nursing and healthcare.
Who Will Be the National Nurse?
Congress will designate the existing Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the US Public Health Service (USPHS), who also serves as the Assistant Surgeon General, be elevated to become a full time position within the Office of the Surgeon General and be officially titled the National Nurse for prevention. Our goal is to elevate and enhance the Office of the PHS Chief Nurse to bring more visibility to the critical role nursing occupies in promoting, protecting, and advancing the nation’s health.
What Will the Office of the National Nurse Do?
The Office of the National Nurse will perform those responsibilities currently being executed by the CNO and will particularly have these more prominent roles:
Support the Surgeon General’s Focus on Prevention
- Assist in the initiation of a nationwide cultural shift to prevention.
- Bolster efforts to focus the public on healthy living.
- Intensify roles for nurses, including students and retirees, in community health promotion.
- Provide greater support to the Surgeon General in calling for improvements in health literacy and reduction in health disparities.
Develop Nurses as Community Health Advocates
- Encourage all nurses to spread prevention messages in their communities.
- Encourage participation of nurses in Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units.
- Provide leadership to network with existing volunteer health promotion efforts.
- Strengthen linkages with providers, nursing programs, and public health leadership.
Promote Professional Nursing
- Serve as a visible national spokesperson for professional nursing.
- Increase public awareness of nursing roles and contributions.
- Enhance nursing recruitment and education throughout all communities.
- Support and justify additional funding for nursing education, research and service.
Pretty impressive, isn’t it? We already have the position in place, we just want to see nursing represented in a prominent position in government. It threatens no one’s authority, it makes the nursing profession more visible and costs no more that what our current CNO is doing right now. The position already exists!
We need to let CNA/NNOC know that we are behind this initiative.
For all the money CNA/NNOC pays out to political initiatives I have zero agreement with (my dues, for what it is worth), here is one thing positive that they can do for nurses that will cost them nothing!
An endorsement. The Office of National Nurse, if initiated, will take NOTHING away from CNA/NNOC or the bedside staff nurse. It will be a positive move for the ENTIRE PROFESSION.
So let’s get busy.
The Office of National Nurse dovetails beautifully with CNA/NNOC’s proposed plan for universal health care.
There are dues-paying members of CNA/NNOC who support the initiative (raising hand!).
CNA/NNOC has a huge voice and they are supposed to be speaking for us.
Now we need to let them know it.
Deborah Burger, RN, sits on the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents. As I understand it, our colleague believes that the Office of National Nurse creates a new entity (it does not) and requires additional funding (it does not).
Please send a respectful email or call Ms. Burger and let her know that you support the Office of National Nurse.
Her office number is (510) 273 – 2200
Her email is “dburger at calnurses dot org”.
Nurses can call from anywhere, but we especially would like you to call if you support the ONN and you are a member of CNA/NNOC.
I don’t get “political” very often, but this transcends politics and benefits everyone and every nurse.
I’m making the call.