An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
America Needs a National Nurse
“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”
Statistics don’t lie: millions of Americans are uninsured and the infant mortality in the United States rate is the second highest among developed nations. Insurance premiums and medication costs soar. Even though the United States spends more per capita on healthcare than any other industrialized nation, according to the World Health Organization, we rank 37th among those same nations in return on our dollar. Clearly, our economy cannot withstand this, as healthcare costs approaches consumption of nearly 20% of our GDP.
Many illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, hypertension and diabetes have tragic complications, but the greater tragedy is that nearly 50% of the time, they can be prevented. Consider heart disease. 80% of heart attacks in women are preventable. In addition to the human pain, suffering and lost productivity from a heart attack, there is also an unnecessary financial burden placed on families.
Clearly, our healthcare system needs a different focus. We can no longer afford our current model of disease and sick care; rather we need healthcare that encourages disease prevention and wellness while treating.
Teri Mills, nurse practitioner and educator, visualized that nurses are the healthcare providers best equipped to teach prevention and proposed establishing the Office of a National Nurse. When The New York Times published her idea, it ignited a grassroots effort led by nurses and others to support the National Nurse Act.
Oregon Congressman, Earl Blumenthauer introduced Ms. Mill’s proposal, the National Nurse Act of 2010 into the 111th Congress and the bill will be reintroduced for legislation in 2011; daily, nurses sign an online petition that supports legislation to create the Office of a National Nurse. .
Who would be the National Nurse? The National Nurse would be the Chief Nurse Officer of the United States Public Health System. Currently this individual is a part-time employee and in taking on the duties of the National Nurse, her position would become a full-time position.
Working with the Surgeon General, the proposal calls for a nurse to be appointed at the federal level of government to deliver the message of disease prevention and wellness strategies to all Americans via televised, radio, and internet-based public announcements.
Each of our nation’s 3 million registered nurses would be encouraged to volunteer on a National Nurse Team to provide educational programs in their communities, increasing awareness of health issues, such as the benefits of exercise and stress management and the detrimental effects of smoking.
We may all have differing thoughts about how to solve our current healthcare problems; but we all agree that prevention of illness alleviates suffering, saves lives and money. Who better to teach Americans how to take better care of themselves than our nation’s trusted, highly educated and skilled nurses? It is time to create and fund the Office of a National Nurse.
For more information, please visit www.nationalnurse.org