Nurses: Your Patient Is America

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


April 09, 2014

In This Article

Your Patient Is in Trouble

Attention, nurses. Your patient is in trouble. With obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, your patient's health and quality of life are sinking under the burden of chronic disease.

And there's more. Your patient probably also has arthritis, fatty liver disease, and early chronic kidney disease. Your patient's risks for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and complications of diabetes are high. Your patient smokes, eats poorly, and maybe drinks too much alcohol. The cost of treating your patient and trying to keep your patient free of complications and out of the hospital is exorbitant.

Who is your patient? Your patient is America.

This is the theme used by Elizabeth McPhee, RN, to begin her comments to those in attendance at a recent Congressional briefing on H.R.485 and S.1475, the National Nurse Act of 2013, held on Capitol Hill (Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. Congressional briefing for The National Nurse Act of 2013. Courtesy of Cameron Trimble, Office of Eddie Bernice Johnson

Figure 2. Briefing presenters Elizabeth McPhee, RN (left), and Teri Mills, MS, RN, CNE (right). Courtesy of Debbie Orr

The briefing, presented by McPhee and National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) President Teri Mills, MS, RN, CNE, a nurse educator from Tualatin, Oregon, was held to inform Congressional staffers and interested stakeholders about a bill intended to guide the delivery of prevention efforts, bringing the unique perspective of nursing to the promotion of health in a way that the public has never before seen.

McPhee understands preventable chronic diseases and the complications that can ensue from firsthand experience in taking care of patients, not from sitting behind a desk or in front of a laptop. McPhee works full time as a charge nurse on a busy general medical unit at Oregon Health & Science University, and her exposure to what is happening to America's health has led her to seek real, achievable solutions to the problem through health policy advocacy. As a former president of her school's National Student Nurse Association chapter, current board member of the NNNO, and member of the American Nurses Association, McPhee is a role model for early-career, energetic, articulate nurses who are unafraid of attacking tough issues, such as America's declining health, in the advocacy arena (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Elizabeth McPhee, RN, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Courtesy of the National Nursing Network Organization


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