Merkley, Wicker Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Applauding, Supporting Nurses and Midwives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) today introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution recognizing the essential contributions of America’s nurses and midwives, and support for the goals and ideals of the World Health Organization’s “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.”

The WHO’s 2020 initiative comes in the year marking the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and at a time when nurses and midwives continue to deliver top-quality care to patients despite a growing global and domestic shortage of health workers.

“Nurses and midwives provide invaluable support and advocacy for patients at some of the most difficult and joyous moments of their lives,” said Merkley. “As the husband of a nurse, I’ve seen firsthand how difficult these jobs are, and how important they are to supporting the health of all our communities, including rural and underserved communities. We must do everything we can to recognize and maintain our nurse and midwife workforce in order to help ensure the long term well-being of American families for generations to come.”

“The 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale provides an opportunity to reflect on the significant contributions of nurses and midwives,” Wicker said. “These professionals are on the front lines of health care, going above and beyond to improve patient outcomes every day. This resolution represents our great appreciation for their work. I will continue supporting efforts to expand education and training opportunities for everyone who wishes to enter this field.”

The Senators’ resolution aims to support the nurse and midwife workforce, celebrate its achievements, and encourage communities across the country to recognize the importance of these dedicated health professionals to their patients.

With an estimated 4,000,000 registered nurses in the United States and 20,700,000 registered nurses worldwide, nurses and midwives currently make up nearly half of the global health workforce, and the largest single component of the health care profession. For centuries, nurses and midwives have made countless contributions to global health, from the eradication of smallpox to significant reductions in maternal and child mortality around the world.

As the United States grapples with serious health care disparities, nurses and midwives will continue to play an integral role in providing high-quality care to children and families, and remain on the frontlines of addressing the maternal health crisis and addiction crisis.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 85 percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of nurses as high or very high—ranking them as the most honest and ethical professionals in the country for the 18th year in a row.

“As the largest group of health care professionals in the U.S. and the most trusted profession, nurses are with patients 24/7 and from the beginning of life to the end. Nurses practice in all healthcare settings and are filling new roles to meet the ever-growing demand for health and health care services,” said American Nurses Association President Ernest J. Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Despite the major role nurses play in health care delivery and community outreach, there are opportunities to increase understanding of the value of nursing in order to expand investment in education, practice and research, as well as increase the numbers of nurses who serve in leadership positions. The Year of the Nurse is a launch pad for greater recognition and appreciation of the nursing profession in every segment of healthcare as they lead, excel and innovate wherever they practice or work.”

“We are honored to see Congress recognize the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and applaud the bipartisan commitment to support the work of nurses across the nation,” said Dr. Ann Cary, Chair of the AACN Board of Directors. “We would especially like to thank co-chairs of the Senate Nursing Caucus, Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Roger Wicker, who are consistent champions for the current and future nursing workforce. We look forward to working with them as we honor this historic year.”

“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is proud to join in celebrating the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and are thankful for the Senate’s leadership in introducing this resolution to honor the work of nursing students, faculty, researchers, and the nursing workforce at large,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “Nurses have a deep impact on the health care of our country, and this resolution helps highlight the daily contributions nurses make to elevate health and health care.”

“Nursing instructors are vital to the health of our profession, and our decisions now around the value we choose to place on them will be critical in determining the future health of America. Our 15,000 Oregon Nurses Association nurses applaud Senator Merkley’s ongoing leadership of fierce advocacy to ensure nurses are empowered to give patients the care they deserve. This resolution underscores the crucial need to continue prioritizing a pipeline into our profession, and investment in education and job creation for nurses that will keep our communities healthy,” said Lynda Pond, President of the Oregon Nurses Association.

The full text of the resolution is available here.