First Lady Offers High Praise to Nurses on Russia Tour

    • July 14, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama gave U.S. nurses a strong endorsement in an unexpected place in early July: a Russian classroom.

Speaking to a group of nursing students in Moscow, Obama—who worked at a medical center before she became first lady—said her husband’s administration is working to encourage young people to enter the nursing profession in the United States.

"One of the most important things I learned while working in the hospital is nurses are critical to the health-care system in the United States,” she said, according to the Washington Post.

Obama is a former vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center. She traveled to Russia in July as part of her husband’s diplomatic mission.

President Obama has also voiced strong support for U.S. nurses since he took office. At a White House summit on health care reform in March, he acknowledged the critical role nurses play in providing quality patient care and urged the government to take action to avert a looming nursing shortage that threatens to undermine patient care.

“Nurses provide extraordinary care,” he told the audience. “They’re on the frontlines of the health care system. And they don’t get paid very well, their working conditions aren’t as good as they should be, and when it comes to nurse faculty, they get paid even worse than active nurses.”

The government, he said, can help fix those problems. “That should be a bipartisan no-brainer to make sure we’ve got the best possible nursing staffs in the country.”