Bill would create ‘national nurse’ position

A bipartisan pair of senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would create a new “national nurse” position tasked with preventing diseases like obesity and heart disease.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) said the national nurse would focus on education to help to curb the growing epidemics of obesity, heart disease and cancer.

“Similarly to the Surgeon General, the National Nurse for Public Health would help raise awareness among the American public about disease prevention and healthy living,” according to a joint release from the senators to mark National Nurse’s Day.

“It’s time we had a National Nurse for Public Health who is empowered to act as a national leader in improving our public health,” Merkley wrote in a statement.

They said the bill would boost an existing position – chief nurse officer within the U.S. Public Health Service. The chief nurse officer, currently Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, helps to advise the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services on “recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development” of its service members.

A similar bill has already been introduced in the House by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Peter King (R-NY).

Newly confirmed surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy has already vowed to make the fight against obesity a major part of his tenure.