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Rounds With Leadership: New Year, New Congress, New Administration

Published January 27, 2021

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

January 27, 2021 - New Year, New Congress, New Administration

Every January, Washington, DC welcomes a new Congress along with new opportunities to impact federal policy. On January 3, the 117th Congress was installed, including 60 freshmen members of the House of Representatives and seven new Senators. (On January 20, three additional new Senators were sworn in.) 

To help orient the new Congress and members of the Biden Administration to academic nursing’s priorities, AACN leaders have been reaching out to individual offices and agencies to make connections and add nursing’s voice to the national dialogue on improving health and health care. Though COVID restrictions prevented us from being there on day one to greet the new members, we have engaged in other activities and virtual meetings to ensure that academic nursing’s voice is heard.

On January 21, AACN sent a letter to each member of Congress outlining our shared priorities in the areas of nursing education, research, workforce development, and new models of care. This communication also highlights how nursing school deans, faculty, researchers, and students are playing a pivotal role in national efforts to address this pandemic, particularly in the development, distribution, and administration of vaccines. To help reiterate this message, we encourage all AACN members to send a welcome email to your Senators and Representative through our online Take Action page.

Our conversations on Capitol Hill are complemented by AACN’s campaign to accelerate the engagement of academic nursing in vaccinating the public against COVID-19. Through this initiative, schools are pledging their support to safely engage faculty, students, and other stakeholders in administering the vaccine and educating citizens on protecting themselves against this public health threat. We encourage all member schools to sign on to this initiative by January 31 and let us know what your school is doing to keep communities safe. Together we can illustrate the impact academic nursing is having on vaccination efforts while making the case that strengthening these efforts is essential to meeting the Biden Administration’s goals for a more robust national strategy.

Another approach we are taking to strengthen policy conversations and leverage the blend of higher education and healthcare knowledge that our members possess is to ensure nurse educators and students are integrated into the policy framework through federal committees, commissions, and boards. Since 2018, AACN has been convening the Ad Hoc Nomination Consortium, which collaborates with fellow nursing organizations to identify and nominate experts in the nursing field for membership on federal advisory committees. With the new Administration now taking shape, we are actively looking for opportunities to ensure representation from nursing and, whenever possible, nursing education.

This week, we were pleased to see that President Biden appointed Rear Admiral Susan Orsega, MSN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, to the post of Acting Surgeon General. RADM Orsega is currently serving as the Director of Commissioned Corps Headquarters at the Office of the Surgeon General within the Department of Health and Human Services. She previously served as the 11th Chief Nurse Officer for the U.S. Public Health Service where she advised the Surgeon General on the recruitment, deployment, and career development for more than 4,500 nurses in federal service. With a BSN from Towson University and an MSN from Uniformed Services University, we are so proud to have a strong, distinguished member of our profession serving in this role.

AACN is committed to working with the new Congress, new Administration, Acting Surgeon General Susan Orsega, and others as we address COVID-19 and work to build a healthier nation. We thank you for joining us in these bipartisan advocacy efforts, advancing AACN’s Federal Policy Agenda, and for leading during these unprecedented times.

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