From Sick Care to Health Care


Vol. 10 •Issue 20 • Page 7

From Sick Care to Health Care

Office of the National Nurse campaign focuses on prevention

The uninsured. Exorbitant healthcare costs. Epidemic obesity. Preventable deaths. At a time when news on the healthcare front is seldom good, an initiative is gradually gaining traction that offers an option for bringing nursing to the forefront as a solution.

Three years ago Teri Mills, MS, RN, ANP, CNE, a nurse educator in Portland, OR, began developing a proposal that would establish a national nurse. Part advocate, part leader and part icon, this full-time position would be an expansion of the existing role of chief nursing officer within the U.S. Public Health Service.

Through the new Office of the National Nurse, the profession would gain a visible and authoritative leader on-par with the Office of the Surgeon General, and the public would benefit from coordinated, locally activated health promotion efforts.

Public Prominence

Mills envisions the national nurse as an icon representing the nursing profession — one that can influence public perception of nurses and their work. The idea not only aims to elevate the status of nurses through strong leadership, but to promote the career option for the best and brightest students considering how they can contribute to our society.

Through the figurehead aspect of the role, a national nurse essentially could serve as a role model for nursing recruitment.

Corralling Efforts

The idea is the nurse would work collaboratively with the surgeon general and enhance the focus on the public, making recommendations to strategize public health efforts on a community level and advocating for prevention on a broad scale.

Detractors argue the plan would add bureaucracy and cost at a time when our nation faces both healthcare and economic challenges. Proponents believe a central nursing figure could bring unity and prestige to the profession and that effective prevention efforts would cut costs associated with chronic disease. When it comes to American healthcare delivery, change is coming. Will nursing be ready?

On page 31, Mills tells ADVANCE about her initiative and how it has evolved. She urges nurses to learn more about the campaign and provide feedback at the National Nursing Network Organization Web site:


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