Melanie Balestra, MN, NP, JD is the president-elect of TAANA, Director of Pediatrics at the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, and counsel for the California Association of Nurse Practitioners. She has been a nurse for over 30 years and focuses on criminal and civil issues impacting health care providers.
Marla J. Weston Ph.D., RN, FAAN is the CEO of the American Nurses Association, American Nurses Foundation, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She has experience as a leader in the Veterans Affairs, Veterans Healthcare Administration. Inducted into the American Academy of Nursing in 2012 and named as one of the 100 most influential people in health care by Modern Healthcare magazine, she could provide a very patient-centered focus on the Supreme Court.
The first nurse elected to the US Congress was Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). Although she is still currently serving, at age 80 she would be an unlikely choice for the Supreme Court. Likewise, Lois Capps (D-CA) is well experienced but at age 78, is also not likely to be a candidate. Diane Black (R-TN) and Renee Ellmers (R-NC) are the remaining RN US Congresswomen. Given their traditionally conservative views, they are also unlikely to be nominated by the current president. Both are active in the legislature and appear to be well endorsed by their parties.
Mary Wakefield Ph.D., RN, FAAN has been referred to by President Obama as the “nation’s top nurse”. She is the head of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and has been chief of staff to two North Dakota senators. Having participated in the Institute of Medicine’s seminal work, “To Err is Human” and “Crossing the Quality Chasm” she is well versed on healthcare issues but as the others, clearly does not fit the usual profile of a Supreme Court nominee.
Based on historic appointees and current potential candidates, it is not likely that a nurse will be nominated to the Supreme Court in the near future. There are no constitutional requirements to be on the Supreme Court. Perhaps the future first nurse Supreme Court justice is graduating from nursing school now.
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