By Anne Llewellyn, RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRN
Editor-in-Chief of Case in Point Magazine and the Case Management Resource Guide
"Be the change that you want to see in the world." ~ Mohandas Gandhi
In its most recent issue (December 1, 2008), the editors of Time magazine devoted a good portion of the issue's material to health care. Topics ranged from health care reform that president-elect Obama has promised to tackle once he takes office, to a monitoring of the country's health care vital signs and as assessment of successes and challenges that exist.
One of the take-away messages of the article was that, for a country that spends $2 trillion dollars on health care per annum, we are, in essence, not getting our money's worth. Huge gaps exist that prevent many from achieving wellness.
Many experts agree that in order to improve health and wellness, and to contain escalating health care costs, the focus should reside on prevention. What is not clear is who will lead efforts to educate the American public on how to incorporate prevention into everyday life. As the trend toward prevention gains steam, many will emerge to the call because of the dire need for it, yes, but also for the potential financial gain.
One group, known as the National Nursing Network Organization, whose aim is to install a federal, cabinet-level Office of the National Nurse, has based its ambitions more on principle than any monetary gain. In addition, the organization's leaders outlined a clear plan on how to bring the concept of prevention to the American public.
The concept of a federal nursing leadership position began after its founder, Teri Mills, a nurse practitioner, wrote a letter to the New York Times in celebration of Nurses Week three years ago. After the newspaper published the letter on its editorial page, a groundswell of support grew from nurses across the country that encouraged Teri to spearhead a project that would recognize the value of nurses as key professionals who could take on the challenge of improving the health of the American public by:
- Assisting in the initiation of a nationwide cultural shift toward prevention.
- Bolstering efforts to focus the public on healthy living.
- Intensifying roles of nurses, including students and retirees, in community health promotion.
- Providing greater support to the Surgeon General in calling for improvements in health literacy and a reduction in health disparities.
As you read the Time series on the state of the America's health, consider how an Office of the National Nurse could galvanize efforts to educate and stimulate citizens of the United States about specific tactics aimed at addressing their own health. Change is becoming a reality. Make sure you are ready to be the change that you want to see in the world.
Have a great week!