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FOR RELEASE: April 28, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Nurses - Many Roles, Many Professions
National Nurses Week to Be Celebrated May 6-12

The work of America's 2.7 million registered nurses (RNs) to save lives and to maintain the health of millions of individuals is the focus of this year's National Nurses Week, May 6-12. The theme, “Nurses: Many Roles, Many Professions,” focuses on the variety and importance of nurses to the health care system in the United States. According to Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) officials, there are about 28,825 registered nurses in Oklahoma, of which almost 1,000 are public health nurses.

“The purpose of National Nurses Week is to raise public awareness of the value of nursing and to help educate the public about the vital roles nurses play in meeting the health care needs of the American people,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “Although nurses historically have provided hands-on patient care at the bedside - and will continue to do so - nurses also are deeply involved in health education, research, business and public policy. We salute them for their achievements,” he said.

In a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United States is described as currently having a nurse shortage of nearly 150,000 RNs, with a shortage of more than 800,000 RNs expected by the year 2020. Because of the current and projected shortages, public health officials are encouraging people to consider the field of nursing as a career. Demand for registered nursing service is expected to grow as the number of Americans age 65 and older increases from about 35 million today to more than 70 million by 2030.

National Nurses Week begins on May 6. Diana Pistole, OSDH Chief of Nursing Service, is asking all public health nurses to wear their RN school pin during that week. If you are interested in learning more about public health nursing, contact Randy Wray at the OSDH, phone 405/271- 4171.

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