and now teaches at Georgetown and Harvard Universities; and Mary Wakefield, who was named administrator of HRSA in 2009 and is the highest-ranking nurse in the Obama Administration. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office has had back-to-back nurses from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows Program as staffers since 2007, providing a significant entry point for the development of new health policy leaders. Additionally, in 1989 Senator Daniel Inouye established the Military Nurse Detailee fellowship program. This 1-year fellowship provides an opportunity for a high-ranking military nurse, who holds a minimum of a master’s degree, to gain health policy leadership experience in Senator Inouye’s office. The fellowship rotates among three branches of service (Army, Navy, and Air Force) annually.17 During the Clinton Administration, Beverly Malone served as deputy assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In 2002, Richard Carmona, who began his education with an associate’s degree in nursing from the Bronx Community College in New York, was appointed surgeon general by President George W. Bush. Shirley Chater led the reorganization of the Social Security Administration in the 1990s. Carolyne Davis served as head of the Health Care Finance Administration (predecessor of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) in the 1980s during the implementation of a new coding system that classifies hospital cases into diagnosis-related groups. From 1979 to 1981, Rhetaugh Dumas was the first nurse, the first woman, and the first African American to serve as a deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health (Sullivan, 2007). Nurses also have served as regional directors of HHS and as senior advisors on health policy to HHS.

As for elected office, there were three nurse members of the 111th Congress—Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Lois Capps (D-CA), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)—all of whom had a hand in sponsoring and supporting health care–focused legislation, from AIDS research to gun control. Lois Capps organized and co-chairs the Congressional Nursing Caucus (which also includes members who are not nurses). The group focuses on mobilizing congressional support for health-related issues. Additionally, 105 nurses have served in state legislatures, including Paula Hollinger of Maryland, who sponsored one of the nation’s first stem cell research bills. None of these nurses waited to be asked; they pursued their positions, both elected and appointed, because they knew they had the expertise and experience to make changes in health care.

Very little in politics is accomplished without preparation or allies. Health professionals point with pride to multiple aspects of the Prescription for Pennsylvania initiative, a state health care reform initiative that preceded the ACA and is also described in Box 5-6. As is clear from a detailed 2009 review, success was not achieved overnight; smaller legislative and regulatory victories set the stage


Personal communication, Corina Barrow, Lieutenant Colonel, Army Nurse Corps, Nurse Corps Detailee, Office of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), August 25, 2010.

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