July 20 to July 23 were exciting days in Boston for supporters of the Office of the National Nurse, as the nearly 4,000 delegates to the 2006 convention of the American Federation of Teachers voted unanimously to support HR 4903, the National Nurse Act of 2006.
The AFT represents 1.3 million teachers, professors, and other educational professionals, nurses and other healthcare professionals, and public employees. It is also home to some of the nursing educators leading the effort to create the Office of the National Nurse, which made the AFT approval particularly special. The resolution was in fact originally proposed by Local 2277 of the AFT, the Portland Community College Faculty Federation, of which Teri Mills and Alisa Schneider are proud members. It was approved at the AFT-Oregon state convention in April, then forwarded to the national AFT.
The resolution, Creating the Office of the National Nurse was number 18 of the more than 75 resolutions introduced at the convention. It was initially taken up by the Healthcare Committee, whose 100 members represented healthcare locals from all over the nation. Local 2277 President, Michael Dembrow, presented the resolution to the committee members, along with an amendment to include an explicit reference to HR 4903. The amendment passed without objection, and the resolution left the committee with a unanimous Do Pass recommendation. Even more important, it was ranked among the top three resolutions of the committee, which meant that it was guaranteed to be considered for action on the convention floor. Had it not made the top three, it would have been referred to the AFT Executive Council to be considered at some later date, as was the fate for the majority of resolutions.
Instead, on July 22nd, under the leadership of AFT Executive VP Toni Cortese, Resolution 18 was taken up by the delegates and passed unanimously, to considerable applause and roars of approval (most likely from healthcare locals!).
Below is a copy of the resolution.
Creating the Office of the National Nurse
WHEREAS, nurses are crucial to the promotion of preventive care and the caring of the whole person; and
WHEREAS, nurses are highly valued and trusted by the public, and are often in a position to deliver educational messages to the public about ways to improve their health and prevent disease; and
WHEREAS there is a serious effort to create an Office of the National Nurse; and
WHEREAS, the National Nurse would act to raise awareness of health issues and promote good health through education and community outreach; and
WHEREAS, the National Nurse would serve as an effective complement to the existing United States Office of the Surgeon-General; and
WHEREAS, the Office of the National Nurse would provide input at the public policy table on a number of valuable initiatives, such as
Providing weekly broadcasts for the media and the internet to promote health;
Increasing the number of nurse educators;
Facilitating the deployment of nurses to under-served areas;
Creating a National Nurse Corps to deliver nursing assistance and education to communities, particularly communities in crisis and
WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers represents many thousands of nurses and nurse educators across the United States; and
WHEREAS, this effort to create the Office of the National Nurse was initiated by nursing faculty who are members of AFT Local 2277, the Portland Community College Faculty Federation; and
WHEREAS, this effort is generating widespread support across the nation, with legislation to be introduced in Congress;
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers encourage the effort to create an Office of the National Nurse embodied in legislation such as HR 4903 and work to promote passage of legislation such as HR 4903; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT help to spread awareness of the effort to create an Office of the National Nurse among its members and partners. (2006)
The National Nursing Network Organization Team—Friday, August 04, 2006