I found this picture in one of my old nursing yearbooks. The picture was published in 1955. The nurse in the picture is admiring a statue that represents the nursing profession. We’ve come a long way over the years. Nurses back in 1955 were subservient. They took orders and carried them out. Period! Thank goodness things are changing in our profession, but more things need to change. You can get the ball rolling by calling CNA/NNOC ASAP!

Nurses hold the key to creating real and significant changes in the health care system. Back in 2006, a grassroots movement was started to establish the Office of the National Nurse. The movement is gaining momentum, and now is the time to come together to get this initiative brought before members of Congress. Unfortunately, some nursing leaders just don’t get it. Some of these nurses, for whatever reason, are spreading misinformation about the proposal. This proposal will not create a new position and it won’t take away funding from anyone else.

Let’s look at the facts:

Why is an Office of the National Nurse Needed?

To slow the growing epidemics of preventable diseases:

Current estimates predict a 42% increase in the 7 chronic diseases.
Risk of type II diabetes is high for more than 41 million Americans.
$1.3 TRILLION annual economic impact of the most common chronic diseases.
The U.S. ranks 19th in preventable deaths.

Promote health awareness, increase health literacy, and reduce health disparities:

Only 31% of Americans can name all 5 heart attack warning signs.
Ninety million Americans have poor health literacy resulting in higher mortality.
Death rates from stroke are 40% higher in African American adults compared to Caucasian adults.

To promote health careers and increased resources:

Severe nursing shortages are projected to continue.
Public health workforce needs are critical.
Public health infrastructure must be strengthened.

To enhance visibility and public recognition of nursing:

Raise awareness of diverse careers in nursing.
Demonstrate nursing leadership and autonomy.
Encourage youth to explore careers in nursing and healthcare.

Who Will Be the National Nurse?

Congress will designate the existing Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the US Public Health Service (USPHS), who also serves as the Assistant Surgeon General, be elevated to become a full time position within the Office of the Surgeon General and be officially titled the National Nurse for prevention. Our goal is to elevate and enhance the Office of the PHS Chief Nurse to bring more visibility to the critical role nursing occupies in promoting, protecting, and advancing the nation’s health.

What Will the Office of the National Nurse Do?

The Office of the National Nurse will perform those responsibilities currently being executed by the CNO and will particularly have these more prominent roles:

Support the Surgeon General’s Focus on Prevention
Assist in the initiation of a nationwide cultural shift to prevention.
Bolster efforts to focus the public on healthy living.
Intensify roles for nurses, including students and retirees, in community health promotion.
Provide greater support to the Surgeon General in calling for improvements in health literacy and reduction in health disparities.

Develop Nurses as Community Health Advocates
Encourage all nurses to spread prevention messages in their communities.
Encourage participation of nurses in Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units.
Provide leadership to network with existing volunteer health promotion efforts.
Strengthen linkages with providers, nursing programs, and public health leadership.

Promote Professional Nursing
Serve as a visible national spokesperson for professional nursing.
Increase public awareness of nursing roles and contributions.
Enhance nursing recruitment and education throughout all communities.

Support and justify additional funding for nursing education, research and service.


Sound good, doesn’t it? No nursing organization will lose their authority, nurses gain a prominent position in government, and the proposal won’t cost taxpayers one additional red cent. Now, it’s time for you to do your part to make this happen. If you are a member of CAN/NNOC, please call or email Deborah Burger, RN. Ms. Burger sits on the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents. Tell Ms. Burger that you want a National Nurse. As I understand it, she and her colleagues believe that the Office of National Nurse creates a new entity and requires additional funding. These misconceptions are not true. Please call Ms. Burger at (510) 273 – 2200 or send her an email. Her email address is “dburger at calnurses dot org”.

Click here to learn more about the proposal to establish the Office of the National Nurse.