Under former President Bill Clinton’s administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) set a pattern of tapping minority nurses to serve in key health care policy-making roles. Among them were Beverly Malone, RN, PhD, FAAN, who held the post of deputy assistant secretary for health; Patricia Montoya, RN, MPA, (commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families); and Linda Burnes Bolton, RN, DrPH, FAAN, who served on the National Advisory Council for Health Care Policy, Research and Evaluation from 1992 to 1995.

Now Burnes Bolton, vice president and chief nursing officer of the magnet hospital Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has again been chosen for an important federal advisory position. HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has appointed her to the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP), part of the Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing. Burnes Bolton will serve a three-year term, which began in February.

NACNEP is authorized under Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary and Congress on issues relating to nurse workforce supply, education and practice improvement.

What does Burnes Bolton, a nationally recognized expert on nursing and nurse staffing, hope to accomplish in this highly visible position?

“The National Advisory Council on Education and Practice of the Division of Nursing has always been committed to improving access to nursing education for individuals from diverse backgrounds,” she tells Minority Nurse. “In my role as a member of the Council, I hope to build on their previous work, including their [1999] report on strategies that have been effective in recruiting and retaining minority students in nursing education programs.

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“I specifically hope to bring to the table my experience in helping nursing schools and communities improve access to nursing education at the baccalaureate degree level,” Burnes Bolton adds. “I truly believe that a knowledgeable [nursing] professional has the best opportunity to help us in closing the gaps of health disparities that continue to exist among ethnic people of color.”

Other accomplishments in Burnes Bolton’s distinguished career include serving on expert panels convened by Congress to provide recommendations on nursing education and practice funding, and being a member of the California Nursing Outcome Coalition, an investigative team researching nurse staffing and patient care outcomes. She has also published many articles on nursing issues and is a member of the National Black Nurses Association and the Association of California Nurse Leaders.

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