Bill would create 'national nurse for public health’

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress to create a new national nursing position that would focus on bolstering public health.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, would designate the chief nurse officer of the U.S. public health service as the “national nurse for public health,” granting the person greater authority to represent the U.S. surgeon general’s office in promoting health, improving healthcare literacy and reducing health disparities (the current CNO of the USPHS is Rear Admiral Kerry Paige Nesseler, RN, BSN, MSN).

Johnson, the first RN to become a member of Congress when she was elected in 1992, knows “from experience how nurses play a critical role in health promotion and disease prevention,” she said in a news release issued by her office. “Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease threaten the health of so many Americans. The national nurse for public health would raise awareness about what each of us can do to prevent illness while improving our own health and that of our families.”

Co-led by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the National Nurse Act of 2013 has gained the support of 30 original cosponsors, according to the news release. The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration (

A version of the bill was introduced during the previous Congress and did not make it out of committee.

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