Why do we need a National Nurse in America? Terri Mills, a nurse educator from Portland Oregon posed that question in The New York Times in May of 2005. Since then a huge grassroots effort has evolved. Representative Lois Capps (CA-23)herself a nurse introduced a bill (HR 4903) to establish the Office of a National Nurse to the 109th Congress. It received a great deal of support and public endorsement, but did not pass. This bill needs to be reintroduced to the 110th Congress.
The National Nurse Team went to Washington DC in March, 2007, to meet with legislators and to educate them about nurses and why we need an ONN. They hope to go again in March, 2008, and need financial backing. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so at NationalNurse.org
"Change vs. the Status Quo" is a theme running throughout the Presidential campaign this year. Creating an Office of the National Nurse would help create change for nurses. Nurses have learned that by elevating nursing as a profession we have gained tremendous respect from the public. Nurses have been cited as one of the most honest and ethical professions by the Gallop Poll several years running.
As health care demands more from patients, nurses are playing a vital role in patient education. Patients cannot assume responsibility for their health status without knowledge. Physicians don't have the time or resources to provide adequate information and education. This role has been assumed by nurses.
An ONN could help to provide a platform for nurses to provide better education and resources to all patients in order to promote wellness and prevent catastrophic consequences from chronic illnesses.
An ONN could help nurses to reach across barriers and blockades from health insurance issues to reach all citizens regardless of an ability to pay for health education and information.
Nurses could play a huge role in helping to improve the health status of this country and to reduce the high costs of health care, irrespective of health insurance coverage. This could then go a long way in helping to reduce insurance costs and pave the way to providing affordable health care and coverage for all.
Many chronic illnesses can be forestalled and complications prevented through proper patient education. Nurses need to be able to focus on and provide education.
An ONN could also help promote the nursing profession and encourage more people to become nurses which would help to alleviate the shortage of nurses.
Perhaps The New York Times needs to do a follow up report on how this op-ed piece grew to big grassroots campaign!