The American Nurses Association (ANA) asserts that it's the "only professional organization to ensure [that] the collective voice of all RNs has national power." But that's the problem: the ANA believes its leaders speak for all nurses. They don't speak for me or for most nurses I know. Unless we pay dues to the ANA our opinions aren't solicited; the only way we have any voice is through our specialty organizations. The ANA leaders are promoting their own views of nursing and the direction it should take. They must be worried about losing power if they're threatened by a proposal that would solve the problem raised in "The Top Nursing Story of 2008"—that nursing is "a leaderless group."
Thousands of nurses have called for the appointment of a national nurse—not as a new position, but as a reconfiguration of the current chief nurse officer (CNO) of the USPHS. Far from being "stalled," efforts to appoint a national nurse are gaining momentum. The nation needs an identifiable nurse at the federal level. This is not redundant, nor would it require a massive infrastructure or budget. These excuses hide the real reason the ANA won't support a national nurse: this visible, respected leader would not be under the ANA's control.
So why can't nurses get along? I'll meet them halfway. If the ANA demonstrates that it's committed to the needs of nursing by supporting the creation of a national nurse position, I'll join the ANA. Until then, I'm donating my time and money to the NNNO.
Laura Stokowski, MS, RN
Fairfax Station, VA© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.