I am a member of the American Nurses Association and a dedicated supporter of HR 4601 The National Nurse Act.
For the life of me, I cannot understand ANA’s reluctance to endorse the National Nurse Act.
The infrastructure already exists, in fact the position already exists. The Act seeks to have the Chief Nursing Officer of the US Public Health Service designated as the National Nurse.
There is nothing political about this – the nominating procedure for the position does not change. It is not a presidential appointment, nor is it a Cabinet position.
And it costs nothing to implement – it’s already funded. It takes no resources away from other nursing initiatives; it competes with no other nursing organization.
But more importantly, it gives the public a visible nurse leader as our health care delivery system transitions to one that focuses on health and the prevention of disease.
And yet, the ANA does not endorse the Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service being known as the National Nurse.
I sit here holding a copy of the ANA Social Policy Statement for Nursing (Second Edition). The Office of National Nurse promotes every aspect of our social policy.
From the ANA “Definition of Nursing”:
Nursing is the protection, promotion and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury…(p.6)
From the ANA “Knowledge Base for Nursing Practice”:
Nurses partner with individuals, families, communities, and populations to address issues such as…healthcare systems and their relationships with access to and quality of healthcare…the environment and prevention of disease (p. 7)
From the ANA “Values and Assumptions of Nursing’s Social Contract”:
Public policy and the healthcare delivery system influence the health and well-being of society and professional nursing (p.3)
These are the very foundation of the National Nurse Act.
Imagine the impact of a focus on disease prevention and health promotion at the national level. Imagine the Medical Reserve Corps gearing up with nurses who volunteer in their own communities – think of the impact on health disparities, on social inequities. Imagine patient education on a national scale.
Imagine the public understanding what nursing is…what we do.
HR 4601 was introduced on February 4th. Fifteen members of Congress support it. Four state legislatures are on board and over 100 organizations and prominent individuals are supporting it.
But not the ANA.
I want to know why.
No cost, no politics and an existing infrastructure ready to go…what more do you want?
Because from where I sit, the National Nurse Act seems to blend beautifully with the ANA.
So, speaking as a card-carrying-dues-paying member of the ANA, we need to get onboard.
We need to support HR 4601 The National Nurse Act.
Kim McAllister, RN, BSN
(Further information can be found at The National Nurse.)
American Nurses Association (2003). Nursing’s social policy statement (2nd ed.). Silver Spring, MD: nursebooks.org.