It is only fitting that the theme for this year’s National Nurses Week is “Nurses: Leading the Way.” After all, nurses lead the way in showing an elderly patient how to manage his or her diabetes. They lead the way in making sure their patients – children and adults – get the vaccinations they need. They lead the way in helping our young moms learn how to care for their infants. And they lead the way in conducting research to promote high-quality life for those with chronic illnesses, and to help all of us stay healthy across the lifespan.
And nurses, our trusted advisers on health issues, led the way in reaching out to their patients, neighbors, and families to make sure they enrolled in health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Nurses, who are on the frontlines of health care, know firsthand how important coverage can be to their patients: to their health, their peace of mind, and their financial security.
We’re continuing to rely on nurses to help educate patients, some of whom had never had health insurance before, on how to use their newly acquired coverage to get the vital preventive and primary care they need. Nurses are also helping patients use new health information technology tools to manage their own care and ultimately improve their health.
That is why this Administration invests in workforce development, education, and training for nurses.
As a result of funding through the Affordable Care Act and other investments, the Administration has greatly expanded the National Health Service Corps and the NURSE Corps, two initiatives that provide educational loan repayment and scholarships in return for practice in the nation’s medically underserved communities. More than 3,680 National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps nurses – including 1,889 nurse practitioners and 1,475 registered nurses – are providing care across the country to those who need it most.
In addition, during the 2012-2013 academic year, the Administration funded the training of 10,600 nursing students through advanced nursing education initiatives. These are just a few of the initiatives that support the education and training of nurses.
National Nurses Week culminates on May 12, the anniversary of the birthday of perhaps the most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale, the original nurse leader. Please join me this week and all the weeks that follow in recognizing nurses across the country for following in Florence’s footsteps and thanking them for the critical work they do in bringing better care and better health to all Americans.
For more information on the Department’s nursing loan repayments, scholarships, and research grants, and to take part in Nurses Week activities including the #IAMANURSE social media campaign, please visit hrsa.gov/nursesweek.