The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO, a cancer surgeon who currently leads the National Cancer Institute, as the next director of the National Institutes of Health, overriding the objections of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the chair of the Senate health committee. The vote was 62 to 36, with Sanders voting no. In a statement last month, he said that while Bertagnolli was an “intelligent and caring person,” he would vote against her because she “has not convinced me that she is prepared to take on the greed and power of the drug companies and health care industry.”

NY Times

ONS Perspective

After her December 2022 diagnosis with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, Bertagnolli brings not only years of experience in the field of oncology but a patient’s perspective to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s preeminent biomedical research organization—as well as her experience participating in a clinical trial for treatment. As an advocate, sharing her personal story has the power to promote change, now at the top levels of health policy.

Oncology nurse advocates have that power, too, bringing their patients’ voices and a nursing perspective to policymakers throughout the country. The latest advocacy need is for the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act ([PCHETA], S. 2243), which was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate but still needs bipartisan support. Share your palliative care stories via social media, email, or telephone and ask your U.S. senators to cosponsor this critical piece of legislation.


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