Rene Ellmers First NC nurse elected to the US Congress
Renee Ellmers, RN, BSN
Republican Representative from North Carolina District 2 2011- 2017
“It can be done.” The sign and this motto have motivated me as I’ve moved through life. It stood prominently at the forefront of my mind when I was working a part-time job to pay for nursing school. It followed me through hospital rounds and rotations during late-night shifts and the stresses of surgical intensive care. It steered me toward the decision to run for office, and it guides me now as I serve the Second District of North Carolina as its first female U.S. representative. (Rene Ellmers quoted in Time Magazne March 17, 2016)
Representative Rene Jacisin Ellmers was born in Ironwood, Michigan to Caroline and LeRoy Jacisin on February 9, 1964. She graduated from Madison High School in Madison Heights, Michigan and four years later, after working her way through college, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Oakland University in Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, Michigan in 1990. Ellmers began her career as a surgical intensive care nurse at Beaumont Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, where she met her husband, Dr. Brent Ellmers. Following a visit with relatives in eastern North Carolina, the Ellmers and their son, Ben, moved to Dunn in 1998. There they owned and operated the Ellmers General Surgery and the Trinity Wound Care Center. Ellmers spent twenty years as the clinical director of the Wound Care Center before starting her Congressional career. While in Dunn, she became involved with her town’s civic life. Ellmers was active in the chamber of commerce where she helped direct its community development agenda and served as president-elect in 2009, and also with the Dunn planning board where she served from 2006 to 2011, including a stint as chairwoman from 2008 to 2009.
In 2010, opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) spurred Ellmers into the political arena. Despite having no political experience, Ellmers ran for the North Carolina 2nd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, recruited an experienced campaign team and aligned her platform with the conservative Tea Party movement. She won her election and was re-elected twice. While in Congress, her legislative agenda included bills that addressed a range of health-care issues, everything from information technology, vaccines, eating disorders, medical records, disposable medical technology, “loan repayment programs” at the National Institutes of Health, and prosthetic limbs. Ellmers voted to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. A year after losing her re- election bid in 2016, Ellmers was named the Regional Director for Region 4 for the Department of Health and Human Services in Atlanta, Georgia. In the spring of 2020, Ellmers unsuccessfully ran for the Lieutenant Governor’s seat in the Republican primary. She based her campaign on health care issues. In an interview with the Statesville Record and Landmark in October, 2019 she noted:
We need to put forward health care solutions, so I thought what a perfect situation to become lieutenant governor, leverage the office of the lieutenant governor to really work on health care solutions ... I am not in favor of creating another government program … I am not in favor of expanding Medicaid.
Ellmers finished her interview in Time Magazine (2016) with these inspirational words:
I want to encourage every woman and every girl to pursue the opportunities or pathways they’re interested in—even if they’re considered unconventional. From someone who has been there and is still there, I say: It takes courage to make history, but it can be done.