OP-ED

The National Nurse

On December 15, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) introduced HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011.

The legislation, co-led by Rep. Peter King (NY-3), would elevate the existing Chief Nurse Officer of the US Public Health Service, to the National Nurse for Public Health, a new full time leadership position that can focus nationally on health promotion and disease prevention priorities.

Teri Mills, a Certified Nurse Educator at Portland Community College in Oregon and President of the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO), introduced the idea of a National Nurse in a 2005 NY Times op/ed. Here is an excerpt from that article.

…Nurses are considered the most honest and ethical professionals, according to a recent Gallup poll. It’s the nurse whom the patient trusts to explain the treatment ordered by a doctor. It is the nurse who teaches new parents how to care for their newborn. It is the nurse who explains to the family how to comfort a dying loved one.

Now, I’m not saying that a National Nurse will become a household name immediately. But given all that’s at stake – the health of a nation – it seems to me that we should at least give nurses a try.

Here’s what I’d have the National Nurse do. She or he would highlight health care education through 15-minute weekly broadcasts that would also be available on the Internet. The emphasis would be on prevention: how to have a healthy heart; how to raise your teenagers without going crazy; how to avoid being swept into the growing tide of obesity.

The Office of the National Nurse would yield benefits in a multitude of ways. The informational programs would decrease dependence on a health care system that is not only expensive but at times inaccessible, especially for those who lack insurance or live in rural areas. Through the office, nurses could sign up for a National Nurse Corps that would organize activities to enhance health in their communities. A National Nurse would give public recognition to the valuable work that nurses perform each day; if we’re lucky, the National Nurse would help stem the nursing shortage by attracting people to the profession.

Ms. Mills is right. Physicians may drive care, but nurses are on the front line with patients delivering it. Nurses are among our most capable and under-appreciated professional resources. Patients respect and respond to them.

Against a backdrop of overwhelming chronic disease and other maladies, why not give nurses the national visibility and respect that is commensurate with the trust that patients give them. Kudos to Ms. Mills for spearheading this effort, as well as to Anne Llewellyn, former President of the Case Management Society of America and another wonderful nurse educator, for alerting me to the National Nurse.

For more information: http://nationalnurse.org. If you’re a nurse (or someone else) who wants to support this project – including help in contacting your US Representative to co-sponsor – contact teri@nationalnurse.info.

Brian Klepper, PhD, is a health care analyst and Chief Development Officer of WeCare TLC, an onsite clinic firm.

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Susan Sullivan MSNDan SpinatoStatus UnknownMD as HELLPeter1 Recent comment authors
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Status Unknown
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Status Unknown

I appealed the situation that I described above regarding the US Public Health Service to the US Special council and they accepted my case. I wonder what sort of reply I will get! I no longer care a fig about Nursing as a profession (something I NEVER thought I would say), but I would very much like to know what my legacy of service is…kicked out Commissioned Corps Nurse Officer, or retired Army Nurse. It has been 13 years now, and I am still trying to get some kind of resolution and closure to this; just imagine, Nurses get “written… Read more »

Dan Spinato
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Dan Spinato

True, nurses are on the front line and yet they are the ones who don’t get as much credit as they deserve. We’ve all been patients at some point in our lives. We know how it feels to be in need of care and attention and actually get it from someone.

Status Unknown
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Status Unknown

Hello Susan Sullivan, Thank you for your reply. The story I included here was a very shortened version, by necessity, to fit it in this space. Another thing that happened to me, after I contacted the Division of Commissioned Personnel (DCP), to start the Board process, was “anonymous” phone calls. These came from a woman who knew my name, and the facts of my case. She said, “Jackie, you don’t want to know who this is, but you need to know that there are people up here who support you…..” She was nice, but I am not stupid enough to… Read more »

Status Unknown
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Status Unknown

Hello Susan Sullivan, I re-read your entry. I hear what you are saying about an “intrinsic calling”, however, using that as a criteria to select who gets trained as a nurse, in today’s complex healthcare world is kind of like that old argument, “are leaders born, or can they be made”? I hope you know about that website “all nurses.com”. Issues such as this, and anything else you can think of, related to Nursing are discussed on that site. For myself, I hope that somehow I can get that time that the USPHS did not officially have me in their… Read more »

Status Unknown
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Status Unknown

I was a nurse in the USPHS Commissioned Corps. I was ‘kicked out’ of the Corps, because I complained that we nurses at a little Indian Health Service hospital were compelled to ‘practice medicine without a license’. (Our Nurse Protocols were titled “Practicing the Art of Medicine”, lol). Rather than go to a Medical Center 22 blocks away, after hour, weekend, and holiday patients presented to our little hospital/clinic. Most of these just wanted a ‘sick slip’ for work. Regardless, we nurses were required to use the ‘Protocols’ to treat these patients. The doctors, who all had a full day… Read more »

Susan Sullivan MSN
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Susan Sullivan MSN

Status Unknown I would like to talk more with you about your situation… how can we connect?

MD as HELL
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MD as HELL

smacks of big brother. you cannot be serious.

BobbyG
Guest

“…and, STAY OFF MY LAWN!!!”

MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

I take care of my lawn myself. You can get rid of the surgeon general, too

BobbyG
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” Physicians may drive care, but nurses are on the front line with patients delivering it. Nurses are among our most capable and under-appreciated professional resources. Patients respect and respond to them.”
__

This is beyond dispute. I’ve been working with and around nurses episodically since 1993. They are the linchpins.

Peter1
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Peter1

“This is beyond dispute.”

Given the new nurse graduates my 30 + year nurse wife has had to work with I’m not so sure I’d say “beyond dispute”. There are now something like three generations of nurses working together, each with different attitudes to their professional responsibilities. I would not be putting my faith in nursing based on the traditional nurse image we all like to believe is in all nurses.

BobbyG
Guest

Well, point taken. The ones I have worked with come from the older cohort, so my view is biased by the acumen I have encountered.

Susan Sullivan MSN
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Susan Sullivan MSN

I am a 3rd generation RN and I am now retired… and there have been many changes in nursing during my family’s history with nursing… A key factor is the changes in healthcare.. the point at which it became viewed as a profit making “business” with stockholders and was no longer viewed as a non-proprietary community “service” things began to change…( I remember when it was unprofessional, actually it was considered unethical, for a hospital or a doctor to “advertise.”) Most who really enjoy and stay in nursing need to have some intrinsic calling…ie, a desire to assist those who… Read more »