I usually don’t watch the Miss America Pageant, but this year I tuned in as I had heard that one of the contestants was a nurse and I wanted to see how she did. As I watched the show nurse Kelley Johnson, from Colorado went against tradition and instead of singing, dancing or playing an instrument for the talent segment of the pageant, shared her talent in a moving monologue about being a nurse.
Kelley told a story about Joe, a patient she cared for in the hospital where she worked. She and Joe talked many nights as she spent time helping him to settle down from the nightmares that he had as a result of his Alzheimer disease. The story showed how they helped each other and realized how valuable each were. Joe helped Kelley realize that she was not ‘just a nurse’ but was his nurse and the one member of the team who took the time to help him deal with his disabling condition of Alzheimer’s. Kelley helped Joe see that his disease did not define him and that he was very important to his family. It was a touching story and showed the important role nurses play in today’s complex healthcare system. Every nurse could relate to this story as it told ‘our’ story. If you have not seen the monologue, click here.
In the end, Ms. Colorado did not win the Ms. America contest but came in third!
The next day, on one of the daytime TV show, The View discussed the highlights of the pageant. Leading the discussion was Michelle Collins who signaled out Ms. Colorado for producing a monolog where she ‘read her emails’ and talked about a patient with Alzheimer’s. In the background was a photo of Ms. Colorado in her scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck. Joy Behar looking at the photo said; ‘why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope around her neck?” To see the discussion, click here.
Following the show, nurses from across the country took to social media to voice their outrage of how Ms. Colorado was portrayed. New Facebook pages popped up and nurses from all over the country joined in to voice their outrage and took the time to clearly explain what they do every day as nurses. It was truly an unprecedented show of unity among nurses across all settings of health care system.
As I read the hundreds of touching and funny posts that came across my Facebook and Twitter feeds from nurses in various settings I realized how proud I was to be a nurse and started to think how we as a profession would harness this show of unity and mobilize the country’s 3.1 million nurses to address the challenges facing our complex healthcare system.
Then I recalled a national nursing organization that I am involved and realized this was a perfect way for nurses to keep the momentum going and harness the power that nurses have. The organization is National Nursing Network Organization
If you have not heard about this dynamic organization, take a minute and visit the website. Here you will find the work that the National Nursing Network Organization is doing in an effort to pass federal legislation know as The National Nurse Act of 2015 which will designate the same individual currently serving as the Chief Nurse Officer (CNO) of the U.S. Public Health Service as the National Nurse for Public Health. As this effort takes Federal Legislation, two Bills have been introduced and are gathering bipartisan support in the House and the U.S. Senate. The House Bill is H.R 379 (click here to read). The Senate Bill is S. 1205 (click here to read)
The Bills would elevate the National Nurse for Public Health as a national advocate for nursing actions to champion public health initiatives in all communities, The CNO/National Nurse for Public Health would promote the nationwide shift from our current sick system to one that focuses on prevention in order to improve health outcomes. Important responsibilities include:
- Collaboration with the Office of the Surgeon General to identify and address national health priorities;
- Serve as a visible national spokesperson for engaging nurses in leadership, policy, and prevention efforts;
- Encourage health professionals to work with community programs to improve health;
- Increase public safety and emergency preparedness; and
- Prepare and submit a biennial report to Congress on nurses serving in the U.S. Public Health Service.
The National Nursing Network Organization is a grassroots effort that is made up of volunteers, led by the National Nursing Network Organization’s Board of Directors and Advocacy Team of which I am a member.
To promote this effort, members visit our Legislative leaders in Washington DC as well as in their home offices several times a year. Significant progress has been made to move this important legislation forward, but there is still work to do. One of the main requests we receive from Legislative leaders when we visit with them in D.C or their Home Office is to have their constituents contact them to show their support of this legislation.
Your voice is critical to helping to show the power that nurses have in improving the health of the people in our country. That is why I am asking for your support and ask that you contact your Legislative Representatives in the House and the Senate and let them know that you support The National Nurse Act of 2015.
To assist you, the National Nursing Network Organization has put together the tools that you need to take action. Here are your Action Steps:
1. Read the Bills: (click here to access). It won’t take too long! 2. Visit the Take Action Page (click here to access). This is the page where you will find
a. Information on how to contact your Congressional Representative in the House of Representative and Your U.S. Senator in the U.S. Senate
b. A sample letter and phone script with talking points is also available. You can use to show your support.
Thank you in advance for sharing your voice for all nurses and for your help in supporting the National Nurse Act of 2015! Please feel free to share this post with your colleagues, family, and friends and ask them to support this important legislation. .
If you have any questions or need assistance please contact me!
Anne Llewellyn, RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRNNurse AdvocateEmail Address: [email protected]Cell: 954-254-2950