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Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day

July 29, 2005 -- In response to our campaign, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has changed the name of its annual "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day" campaign to "Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day." Nurses had argued that, since over 100,000 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses provide high quality primary care to the very minority populations the campaign targets, a name change to reflect that would enhance the campaign's effect on those populations, and at the same time address the image problem that is a key factor in the nursing shortage. The Center salutes HHS--especially Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Garth Graham, MD, MPH, and the Office of Minority Health--for its responsiveness, flexibility, and concern for public health. Take a Loved One for a Check Up Day is September 20, 2005.

In December 2004, the Center had reinvigorated our campaign to seek this name change that we had actually begun two years earlier. Over 300 nurses then wrote to HHS in support of a name change, as did the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and the American Nurses Association. Following a constructive conference call with the Center, Dr. Graham agreed in late January to direct the relevant working groups to seek a new name that "we can all be proud of for the betterment of the populations we serve."

The Center and the other nursing groups that wrote to HHS supported the ACNM's suggestion that the name be changed to "Take a Loved One for a Check Up Day." We were thrilled to learn that this name had in fact been selected, and that the campaign would receive significant funding for 2005. There are details on the 2005 campaign at the HHS web site. (Some parts of the HHS web site may not yet reflect the name change.)

In the past, the campaign has included high-profile events in major cities and significant promotion in the mass media, including on past honorary chair Tom Joyner's popular radio show, which is heard in over 100 markets on the ABC radio network. We can't guarantee it, but we hope that the simple fact that the name is changing this year may provoke further discussion in the media and elsewhere as to why it is changing--which would of course be discussion about the important contributions of nurses in primary care.

We thank all the nurses who wrote to HHS, and the above nursing groups, for their critical roles in this successful campaign. We hope everyone will use Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day as an opportunity to encourage underserved populations to seek health care, and to underline the important role nurses play in that care.

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