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DiversityNursing Blog

Nurse Visits Help First-Time Moms, Cut Government Costs In Long Run

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 11:57 AM


symphonie dawson custom dace4345c69592cf6ab851d6025ae1cd4f1d02e9 s400 c85 resized 600While studying to become a paralegal and working as a temp, Symphonie Dawson kept feeling sick. She found out it was because she was pregnant.

Living with her mom and two siblings near Dallas, Dawson, then 23, worried about what to expect during pregnancy and what giving birth would be like. She also didn't know how she would juggle having a baby with being in school.

At a prenatal visit she learned about a group that offers help for first-time mothers-to-be called the Nurse-Family Partnership. A registered nurse named Ashley Bradley began to visit Dawson at home every week to talk with her about her hopes and fears about pregnancy and parenthood.

Bradley helped Dawson sign up for the Women, Infants and Children Program, which provides nutritional assistance to low-income pregnant women and children. They talked about what to expect every month during pregnancy and watched videos about giving birth. After her son Andrew was born in December 2013, Bradley helped Dawson figure out how to manage her time so she wouldn't fall behind at school.

Dawson graduated with a bachelor's degree in early May. She's looking forward to spending time with Andrew and finding a paralegal job. She and Andrew's father recently became engaged.

Ashley Bradley will keep visiting Dawson until Andrew turns 2.

"Ashley's always been such a great help," Dawson says. "Whenever I have a question like what he should be doing at this age, she has the answers."

Home-visiting programs that help low-income, first-time mothers have been around for decades. Lately, however, they're attracting new fans. They appeal to people of all political stripes because the good ones manage to help families improve their lives and reduce government spending at the same time.

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act created the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and provided $1.5 billion in funding for evidence-based home visits. As a result, there are now 17 home visiting models approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress reauthorized the program in April with $800 million for the next two years.

The Nurse-Family Partnership that helped Dawson is one of the largest and best-studied programs. Decades of research into how families fare after participating in it have documented reductions in the use of social programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, reductions in child abuse and neglect, better pregnancy outcomes for mothers and better language development and academic performance by their children.

"Seeing follow-up studies 15 years out with enduring outcomes, that's what really gave policymakers comfort," says Karen Howard, vice president for early childhood policy at First Focus, an advocacy group.

But others say the requirements for evidence-based programs are too lenient, and that only a handful of the approved models have as strong a track record as that of the Nurse-Family Partnership.

"If the evidence requirement stays as it is, almost any program will be able to qualify," says Jon Baron, vice president for of evidence-based policy at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which supports initiatives that encourage policymakers to make decisions based on data and other reliable evidence. "It threatens to derail the program."

Topics: women, government, registered nurse, advice, newborn, nursing, health, baby, family, pregnant, RN, nurse, nurses, health care, medical, home visits, new moms, first-time moms, Infants and Children Program

California Lawmakers Want to Raise Smoking Age Limit

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 11:43 AM

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Should the legal age for smoking be raised from 18 to 21? That’s the question being pondered by lawmakers in California, where a growing contingent of health advocates are seeking to make their state’s minimum smoking age the highest in the United States.

Known as Bill 151, the legislation, which was proposed by Democrat Senator Ed Hernandez last Thursday, is designed to limit tobacco smoking among young people. Hernandez says it’s about preventing people from becoming addicted to cigarettes when they’re most vulnerable.

“Tobacco companies are aware that people tend to become addicted to smoking if they start it at young age,” Hernandez said. “Senate Bill 151 proposes to increase the legitimate smoking age in California from 18 to 21 years in an offer to restrain tobacco smoking in children and teenagers.”

Hernandez has evidence to support his cause. According to the American Lung Association, nine in ten smokers take up the habit right around the time they reach age eighteen. Overall, it’s estimated that about 36,000 California children begin smoking each year.

Hernandez says it’s time to take a tougher approach when it comes to preventing young people from smoking. “We can no more bear to sit on the sidelines while huge tobacco markets to our children and gets another era of youngsters snared on an item that will at last kill them,” Hernandez said.

California is not the first state to make this venture. Utah, New Jersey, Maryland, and Colorado have all tried to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21, with every attempt ending in failure.


Topics: age, laws, government, California, smoking, cigarettes, tobacco, health, health care

The National Nurse Act of 2013

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, May 03, 2013 @ 03:33 PM


The National Nurse Act of 2013

In 2005, the New York Times published an editorial by Teri Mills, RN, MS, CNE, president of the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO), calling for the appointment of a national nurse leader who would promote awareness of public health issues. Since then, the NNNO and its supporters have waged a campaign to bring the matter to the attention of nurses, the general public and members of Congress. Could you be a lobbyist?

The United States Public Health Service has had a chief nurse officer (CNO) for decades, working within the Office of the Surgeon General. However, the CNO has largely remained outside the limelight and is mostly unknown to both the public and the more than 3 million nurses currently licensed in this country. 

On Feb. 4, 2013, with the strong support of Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Peter King (R-N.Y.), the National Nurse Act of 2013 was officially introduced to the House of Representatives as H.R. 485. 

Johnson, who describes herself as “the first registered nurse in Congress,” explained in an email statement that H.R. 485 would designate the chief nurse officer of the U.S. Public Health Service as the national nurse for public health in order to elevate the visibility of nurses.


The national nurse, Johnson said, would collaborate with the surgeon general to address national health priorities and would serve as a national spokesperson to engage nurses in leadership opportunities and community prevention efforts. 

Under H.R. 485, the national nurse for public health would continue to serve simultaneously as the CNO. However, in his or her new capacity, the national nurse would be a much more public figure than past CNOs, acting as a resource for public health guidance, promoting media campaigns and outreach and garnering support from both healthcare professionals and the general public for public health initiatives. 


According to Mills, a major goal of the bill is for the national nurse to serve as a source of encouragement, inspiration and professional direction for nurses.  

At a time when this most trusted of American professions struggles with nursing shortages and other challenges, placing a high-profile nurse in such a leadership role could inspire nurses to make positive career choices, including expanded volunteerism and involvement in community prevention efforts. 

“We want the position to be more visible,” says Mills, “because we really believe that nurses, encouraged by a prominent national nurse for public health, will mobilize to carry messages of prevention forward.” Nurses, she adds, are well positioned to reach everyday Americans with meaningful health messages and in times of public health crises and disasters, nurse expert opinion and commentary in the media would provide a “welcome and trusted authoritative voice.”


According to Susan Sullivan, a retired public health nurse living in Southern California and the secretary of NNNO’s board of directors, many California nurses are strongly in favor of establishing a national nurse. She explains, “We see the logic in creating a prominent nurse leader whose national visibility will serve to encourage collaboration and community support for meaningful prevention initiatives.” 

She says the national nurse could also play an important role in encouraging and inspiring California nurses to connect with their community’s diverse populations to promote better health outcomes. The national nurse will be a widely recognized public health advocate, a nurse who will have the backing of Congress to take action. “Having this sort of leadership at the national level will produce results.”

Email Susan Sullivan at to arrange a conference call or a conference speaker.


One concern that has arisen about expanding the CNO’s role in this manner is the possibility of turning the position into a political one. Mills maintains that the public health service, like the military, must remain nonpartisan and not take any public stand on legislation or elections. 

The supporters of H.R. 485 have had constructive discussions on that subject with representatives of the surgeon general’s office, resulting in several revisions to the language of the bill.


As of this writing, the bill has received bipartisan support from more than 35 members of Congress and further co-sponsorship is being actively sought. The bill’s sponsors hope it will make its way through the political process and pass during the current session. 

If you are interested in learning more about this initiative and supporting the bill’s passage through Congress, visit the NNNO website,

The website includes links to sign up for the campaign’s newsletter, make financial contributions and contact members of the NNNO, as well as opportunities to join the advocacy team and travel to Washington, D.C., as part of the lobbying effort.

The organization can assist you in contacting your representatives, including providing sample phone scripts or letters to mail or email. For a donation of $20, the advocacy team will also deliver an information packet on H.R. 485 to your congressional representative on your behalf.  


“Having a national nurse for public health join with the surgeon general will make it possible to expand health promotion and disease prevention efforts in our communities. That’s why I’m a proud co-sponsor of the National Nurse Act of 2013.”

— Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.)


Nurse Turns Lobbyist Audrey BayerNurse Turns Lobbyist

You don’t need to be political to be involved

In early February, Audrey Bayer, RN, BSN, of Lambertville, N.J., learned that her congressional representative, Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), would be holding mobile office hours near her home.  

Although she says she is not “a political person,” Bayer contacted Teri Mills of the National Nursing Network Organization and decided to bring the National Nurse Act (H.R. 485) to Lance’s attention. 

“Of course I was nervous,” says Bayer, “since I had never met a person from Congress before. But I felt that this was my moment! He responded in a positive manner, accepting the information I provided, both written and verbal.”

Bayer, who is now in her sixth year as a nurse, says she became interested in the national nurse for public health campaign during her final BSN class at Pennsylvania’s Immaculata University, from which she graduated in January. “Teri got in touch with me and I joined the advocacy team,” Bayer explains.  

Our new nurse lobbyist plans to follow up with Lance and other lawmakers about H.R. 485 over the course of the current legislative session.   

Source: Working Nurse

Topics: government, National Nurse Act of 2013, lobbyist, USA, nurse

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