We Need a National Nurse NOW!

The WHO raised the swine flu pandemic alert to a 5 (out of6) and changed the name to Influenza A (H1N1) as the poor pigs are getting a bad rap from this one. Although it is now believed that the first case in Mexico may have been a young boy who contracted it from a pig and it mutated to a human to human transmission from there.

There has been a call to all nurses to be alert to the public health crisis looming as the swine flu spreads across the U.S. Wouldn’t this be a perfect time to have a National Nurse? And a corps of nurses prepared and ready to move into action where needed?

Yes, I know the ANA is trying to do this and the Red Cross always helps to organize nurses in a any crisis and send volunteers where they are needed, but as we saw with Katrina, this system works, but it could be oh so much better!!!

So why is there so much opposition to the idea of a National Nurse? Perhaps it’s just the old professional jealousy thing….NIH…Not Invented Here… that keeps the opposition buoyant.

I think we may see in the next few days and weeks that there is a real need for a strong, united and organized front of nurses to help meet the needs of the public and to educate people in how to care for themselves as well as contain and prevent the spread of this flu pandemic.

We know that even though the government says there are plenty of antivirals to go around, in reality, pharmacies are NOT stocked and prepared to deliver them. They need to be taken early on in the course of the illness to be effective so this isn’t a good thing!

The CDC and WHO are issuing information on Twitter in 140 characters or less. This is terrific, but is it adequate to educate the public in how to prevent transmission and how to safely care for themselves and their loved ones if they become ill?

As the events unfold and we move into National Nurses Week, I urge you to keep in mind how much better we could proceed if we had an Office of the National Nurse to lead and organize our efforts. Take action to support the nursing profession by sending a letter to your legislators.


  • vicky

    i have been looking for the national uniform that every nurse wears and guess what ? there isn't one!! every single hospital differes in the clours and variation so if you were admitted to an unfamilliar hospital to the one you normally use you would have no idea which personell was a nurse!!! your idea for a national nure is brilliant! but when they create one they'd better have one specifice colour to recognise them by or i'll go mental !! i'm suposed to reasearch the nurse uniform and i can't find a national one. The problem is i am meant to write a (250 words!) essay on my findings. this is going to be imposible. any ideas ?

  • Brigid Webb

    I believe a National Nurse would be invaluable in calming down the public with regards to the swine flu situation. People are calling up our ER asking “Am I going to die from the swine flu?” and they have *no* symptoms! I think the media is playing on people’s fears and a National Nurse would really help quash some of the craziness that’s going on right now.

  • rhetoretician

    A National Nurse would have been very helpful during all the Swine Flu brou-ha-ha. Someone who could help reduce hysteria, while imparting solid factual info would be nice. Someone who could help the true front-line in any heath emergency (nurses) with coordination and information would make everything run more smoothly, and help keep health providers as well as patients safer.

  • lillie

    I couldn’t agree more. Nurses are great at reassuring, supporting and providing care, and are trusted by the public. We should have a much bigger voice in national health concerns, and the office of the National Nurse would accomplish this.

  • Lisseth

    This would be an excellent time to have the National Nurse in place, although some people are aware of the flu and it’s symptoms, a lot of them are not well informed and scared because of all the things they hear in the media. My Mom called from California very worried and afraid of going out (she has Lupus)and contracting the flu due to her weak immune system, this would be a perfect time where the public can get direct information from one person (National Nurse) instead of hearing a million different things from the media.

  • Annie

    I agree with Elizabeth; NOW is the perfect time for a National Nurse. People look to nurses for leadership in addition to caring and with that leadership, comes the responsibility-of which nurses are more than capable-to educate.

    Besides educating about vaccines, one of a nurse’s role is to teach and really hammer home that there is so much the public can do to prevent the spread of this virus.

    Nurses have a front seat role in clinics throughout the country in alleviating the anxiety we now see.

  • Aldon Hynes

    I have been focusing on local politics a lot these days, and so Monday, I was at a Board of Education meeting.

    The first thing the Superintendent spoke about during his report was about the schools preparations for dealing with the Swine Flu and a conference call he was on with the school nurse, with many important national organizations.

    As I listened to him speak, I thought about how important the office of a National Nurse really is, and I hope that this will move us a little closer in that direction

  • Patricia

    The time to institute the office of National Nurse is now! Nurses are so intrinsic to maintaining the high standard of health care we enjoy today — it is they who maintain contact with the patient. It is they who apprise the doctors of changes in a patient’s condition. Nurses are the ones who, quite literally, have their fingers on the nation’s pulse, and someone representing them should be included in shaping and implementing America’s health care policies going forward. A Surgeon General is not enough!

  • lauren

    the NN would and will certainly be a tremendous asset as we build a new health care system in these difficult times.

  • Keith, RN

    Yes, we need a National Nurse, and we need the position now more than ever.

    Nurses are the front line in health care, and we deserve and need recognition and representation at the highest levels.

    Nurses’ education and approach to problem-solving is uniquely different than that of physicians, and a National Nurse who stands on equal footing with the Surgeon General would add a greatly needed voice to the mix.

    It’s time for nurses to rise to their full potential. As the most consistently trusted professionals in America in poll after survey, nurses have so much to offer, and a National Nurse would give nurses the power to reach even more Americans with our message of prevention and wellness.

  • PDX Peds Nurse

    A National Nurse is needed now more than ever. People look to nurses everyday for questions about their health. This recent outbreak of illness is yet another example of the need for nurses to be united in caring for the communities we serve. It would benefit us all to have a National Nurse to deliver reliable public health information and bring together nurses from all specialties and geographic locations. We do need a National Nurse NOW!! 🙂

  • Rachel

    Now is the perfect time for a National Nurse, we have needed one for years!!!!! Nurses have always been the ones that provide direct patient care, they are kind, caring, they understand the medical need, and they have great critical thinking abilities! They can educate and guide the public in a way that relates to them more. The national nurse is the best way to meet these type of needs in a National level, and would educate the Nation on measures that would otherwise be chaotic.

  • Rachel

    Now is the perfect time for a National Nurse, we have needed one for years!!!!! Nurses have always been the ones that provide direct patient care, they are kind, caring, they understand the medical need, and they have great critical thinking abilities! They can educate and guide the public in a way that relates to them more. The national nurse is the best way to meet these type of needs in a National level, and would educate the Nation on measures that would otherwise be chaotic.

  • rich.meier

    A National Nurse would be of huge value at a time like this. We have officials tasked with counting cases, researching the virus, coordinating logistics, etc… but no one person who is the voice of prevention. It’s nice that Obama is trying to keep people informed and calm, but a National Nurse could be dedicated to this full time.

  • Doris Werkman

    Now is the perfect time. We need someone who can calm our fears, give us up to date information, and prepare us for the next step. Our National Nurse would be the one.

  • The Nursing Site

    Here’s another comment I received from Susan Sullivan RN PHN MSN, NNNO Board Member:

    Kathy, I could not agree more with your timely statement “We Need a National Nurse NOW!” and I want to thank you for posting it. In response to the H1N1 (swine flu) concerns, I can just imagine having a National Nurse in place right now that is already as familiar to the public as TV’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta… but is also the CNO of the USPHS and a trusted nurse. A National Nurse would be a single source for authoritative and user-friendly messages for the public, and would likely be more effective than having Janet Napolitano, the former AZ governor, who is now busy heading homeland security, reading statements prepared by CDC staffers.

    A National Nurse would be speaking with confidence from a personal knowledge base developed during years of nursing experience, able to apply skills to reassure patients and the public while explaining proven recommendations for health promotion.
    I would like to suggest all nurses who agree a National Nurse is needed take time to write a simple letter to their legislators and/or their newspaper’s Op Ed section. Now is the time for action…just as Flo had to write many letters in her day to bring about needed changes, letters from nurses to legislators are needed today.
    A simple template will soon be available on http://www.nationalnurse.org. I hope many nurses will be inspired to use it to contact their legislators and media during the upcoming National Nurses Week. In my opinion, it is what Flo would do!!
    Susan Sullivan RN PHN MSN
    NNNO Board Member

  • Teri Mills

    Nurses are the most trusted health professionals. We concur with your comments, Elizabeth, we need a calming voice to reassure the public. Even more important, we need to be able to mobilize nurses in times of crisis, especially if the CDC decides to move forward with an swine flu immunization (this may be two series of injections, and they are not sure if they can mix the regular flu vaccine in).

    Please visit http://nationalnurse.org and http://nationalnurse.blogspot.com Email teri@nationalnurse.info to be added to receive the National Nurse newsletters. Check out the growing list of endorsers, and write to learn ways you can support this grassroots initiative.

    LivingDeadNurse, an Office of the National Nurse will add a voice at the federal policy table, highlighting the critical role nurses play in health education and prevention. Certainly patient safety will be a high priority in any discussion.

  • Jessica

    I agree. Whenever I have been very sick or in the hospital, it is always the *nurses* that make me feel better, both physiclly and emptionally. Having a National Nurse to turn to in times of national medical crisis would be very heatlhy for our country!

  • Chrisy

    Nurses is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest group of health care providers. They are the ones who sees/cares for patients 24/7. There should definitely be an Office of the National Nurse! The issue is that nurses have a bad image. We are “Doctor’s assistants,” to the general public. Furthermore, nursing is such a diverse field that there is no unity within the nursing community. To make this change, we must all band together as nurses. Med-surg, psych, public health, maternity, pediatrics, informatics…we are in this together.

  • LivingDeadNurse

    I totally agree…can we make this group also responsible to help push for better paient ratios? to keep pts and nurses safe? Where do i sign up!!! loved the blog

  • Elizabeth

    Yes, NOW would be the perfect time for a National Nurse to take action. My colleagues, who work in a few ER’s in my city, said they have been flooded with people demanding Tamiflu.
    In addition to organizing nurses into responding in times of a crisis like this, we need a respected leader to look to. Nurses have a way of relieving the fears and anxieties of their patients. By serving to educate the public and guide us towards appropriate viral illness precautionary measures, I believe the presence and guidance of a National Nurse would help to prevent the kind of panic we are seeing now.