Nurses are an integral part of our healthcare system; as such, they believe prevention is the key to wellness. A new bill has been proposed to promote preventative care with a national advocate at the helm, the National Nurse Act 2013.
Officially titled H.R. 485 The National Nurse Act of 2013, the bill was introduced by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY) on February 4 of this year. The act quickly gathered bipartisan support from 68 members of Congress, including Nevada’s Dina Titus and Steven Horsford as co-sponsors.
This new champion of public health will work in collaboration with the Surgeon General, identifying and addressing national health priorities; inspire other healthcare professionals to work within their communities to improve health through local programs; and serve as a visible spokesperson to engage nurses in leadership, policy, and prevention efforts.
Pictured left to right: Adm. Boris Lushniak, Deputy Surgeon General; Susan Sullivan RN, MSN, PHN, NNNO Board Secretary; Teri Mills RN, MS, CNE, NNNO President; Elizabeth McPhee RN, NNNO Board Member; Debbie Orre RN, MSN, NNNO Board Member; and Rear Adm. Kerry Paige Nesseler, Chief Nurse Officer, U.S. Public Health Service
National Nurse Duties
- Provide Leadership – Along with the Surgeon General, promote health literacy, focus on decreasing health disparities, coordinate efforts with other entities including providing representation for the Government of the United States at the Global Forum for the Government Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers and serve as a member of the Federal Nursing Service Council
- National Spokesperson – Maintain visibility as a national spokesperson and engage nurses in leadership, prevention efforts, and policy
- Promote Volunteerism – Inspire other healthcare professionals to work within their communities to improve healthcare in their area programs
- Education – Encourage and inspire nurses to further their education in order to conduct more research, increasing the awareness of evidence-based practice, and to educate future nurses
- Public Health – Provide leadership for events and campaigns to promote wellness and public health, while encouraging other health professionals including nurses to be volunteers and develop projects to inform and engage the public in prevention practices in order to achieve optimum health
- Emergency Readiness – Provide leadership and guidance for events to help increase overall awareness for emergency readiness and public safety
The health of Americans is on the decline, and the key could be prevention in many cases. Sometimes, poor habits can lead to poor health issues, the numbers are staggering:
- Diabetes (children and adults) – 25.8 million people (8.3 % of the population)
- Prediabetes – 79 million people
- Cancer – 1,638,910 new cases reported in 2012
- Obesity – 35.7%
- Heart Disease – More than 26.5 million
- Cigarette Smokers – 43.8 million (19%)
- Smokeless Tobacco – 8.9 million
- Cigar Smokers – 13.2 million
- Pipe Smokers – 2.2 million
- Tanning Bed Users – 28 million annually
A supporter of the bill, Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE, a Portland Community College Nurse Educator who also serves as the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) President states, “We are delighted to have immediate bipartisan support for this legislation, and because it does not require any appropriation of funds, we hope Congress can agree to pass this quickly. As Congress and the President continue to negotiate to solve the country’s budget crisis, it would be wise to consider the financial impact that the seven most common chronic diseases have on our economy.”
Congresswoman Johnson earned a degree in nursing so she recognizes how important healthcare and prevention is for wellness; she studied at St. Mary’s College at the University of Notre Dame and later received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University. Congresswoman Johnson is the first nurse to be elected to US Congress.
Widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress, Congresswoman Johnson is an advocate for children and families. She is credited with authoring and co-authoring more than 150 bills passed into law.
H.R. 485 The National Nurse Act of 2013 may only be in the proposed state, but for many, it is gaining momentum. The Nevada State Nurses Association along with 130 organizations and prominent individuals has already endorsed the Act.
By Dawn Cranfield
Senior Correspondent / Product Specialist