Off-the-Charts1I miss my weekend alternative job. Working 40 hours a week is a drag. It takes me away from really important things like blogging and eating Godiva chocolates during the week. This week’s blog post is about something that really gets me charged up. We need an Office of the National Nurse, and nurses from around the world agree with me. They can’t understand why U.S. nurses are behind the times.

Diana Mason, American Journal of Nursing editor-in-chief emeritus, just wrote a post for AJN’s blog, Off the Charts The title of her post says it all: Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have an Office of the National Nurse? Diane attended a meeting held by the Institute of Medicine Initiative on the Future of Nursing. Two nurses from the UK were presenters: Ann Keen, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Undersecretary for Health Services who chairs the Prime Minister’s Commission of the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England; and Jane Salvage, the lead secretariat for the commission and a former contributing editor for AJN. Keen told the audience that countries within the UK each have a chief nurse officer who is responsible for developing a national nursing strategy. Diane interviewed Keen and Salvage, and they told her that they didn’t understand why American nurses were not supporting the call for a CNO for the United States. Diane wrote, “In their eyes, a CNO who is on par with the surgeon general could help the nation to develop approaches to ensure an adequate nursing workforce, identify barriers to their full utilization, identify new models of care to better promote the health of the public, and develop strategies for removing the barriers that impede forward movement.”

It’s so simple. If our nursing colleagues across the pond can understand the value of having a national nursing leader, why can’t the ANA? Ego perhaps? I know that ANA headquarters is located just outside of the home of political backstabbing in Washington, D.C., but do they really think that it’s appropriate to spread misinformation about the proposed legislation in order to undercut those that they profess to represent? Come on, ANA. Take down that outdated information that you have up on your website about the ONN initiative. You know that the proposal was updated a long time ago in order to address your concerns, as well as the concerns of other nursing organizations. Here is the updated information about the campaign to establish the Office of the National Nurse:

    Supporters want Congress to designate an EXISTING position to be the National Nurse. The Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS would be the National Nurse. This position is ALREADY funded, but currently is a dual appointment shared with the branch of the HHS. We are asking that this job be made into a fulltime position. We aren’t asking for new funding, just a revamping of what’s already there.

    The selection process would remain within the USPHS. This will keep the position apolitical. In addition to the current roles/responsibilities of the CNO of the USPHS, we are also asking for this position to take on a broader focus. We want nurses to participate in existing programs of prevention so they may be replicated in areas of greatest need.

I really wish the that the ANA would stop embarrassing themselves in front of world nursing leaders and get with the program. Please take the time to learn why more than 75 prominent nurse leaders, international, national, and state organizations have endorsed and voiced their support for this exciting proposal. Visit the National Nursing Network Organization website to learn the facts, and you’ll be asking yourself why we don’t have a national nurse.