Headlines from the Hill

Recently, the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) hosted the inaugural briefing of the Senate Nursing Caucus to announce release of the final results from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN). Titled “A Snapshot of America’s Nursing Workforce: Preparing for the Future Demand,” the event featured an address by Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Prepared every 4 years by HRSA, the NSSRN compiles the most comprehensive data available on the U.S. registered nurse (RN) workforce, including information on education, diversity, employment settings, career satisfaction, and factors related to the future supply of RNs.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), co-chair of the Senate Nursing Caucus, began the event by introducing Wakefield and explaining the importance of nursing to the healthcare delivery system. Wakefield then addressed the group and discussed the findings.

“The findings from the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses show what an effective partnership between HRSA and the nursing community can yield,” said Wakefield. “Funding for faculty development has helped increase the number of young nurses entering the profession. We are also encouraged by the increasing diversity of the workforce, which HRSA fully supports. These gains are critical to ensuring that nursing is ready to embrace the opportunities that health reform presents.”

Held at the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, D.C., the event was well-attended by Congressional staff, nursing leaders, and organizational representatives, and demonstrated the importance of high-quality data in creating policies that will help build a robust nursing workforce. ANA and AACN were honored to host this briefing as the inaugural event of the Senate Nursing Caucus.

“As the landscape of healthcare changes, it is vitally important that we have a nursing workforce that can adapt to and address these changes,” said ANA President Karen Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. “We appreciate the value of a forum like the Senate Nursing Caucus to address the issues that impact nursing, and we welcome a healthy exchange of ideas that will serve to strengthen the nursing workforce and ultimately improve the quality of care we provide.”

ANA also was proud to be among the participants in a nurse-only healthcare reform conference call with Wakefield and First Lady Michelle Obama. More than 5,000 nurses from across the country participated in the call, which focused on how nurses can educate their patients about the new protections and benefits available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Groups of nurses and nursing students held listening parties in sites around the country.

Obama began the discussion with a message of thanks for the “crucial role nurses play in the healthcare system” and the work of nurses across the country—“all the things you do everyday” to improve the health of patients. She urged nurses to educate their communities as well as patients about the protections available under the ACA.

Other topics covered on the call included the ACA’s Medicare provisions and the administration’s efforts to combat the pending nursing and nurse faculty shortages with new investments in nursing education. ANA member Jillian Roth, a labor and delivery nurse from Virginia, also spoke about the importance of primary and preventive care services.

These two events underscore the importance of nurses in the healthcare system. That both Congress and the White House held nursing-focused events in September shows that the work being done every day by nurses is recognized as vital to patients everywhere.

Adrianne Drollette is a senior political action specialist in ANA’s Department of Government Affairs.

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