FEBRUARY 28, 2014 – The president of the American Academy of Nursing encouraged nurses to develop and share their vision for health care during a lecture hosted by the School of Nursing & Health Studies.
“I really do believe this is nursing’s time,” said Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, also the Rudin Professor of Nursing and co-founder and co-director of the Center for Health, Media, and Policy at Hunter College at the City University of New York.
That work must remain focused on the health of individuals, families, and communities, she told the audience gathered in the ICC Auditorium.
“I am looking for this next generation here to keep leading this work forward,” Mason said. “But I want to remind us, it’s not for us. This work is for the people of this country. ... If we keep our eye on that prize, I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Nursing and Health Policy
Mason delivered the keynote address in the school’s McAuley Lecture Series, funded by Georgetown parents Brian and Jane McAuley and focused on topics of health and health care.
“Her career has been situated at the intersection of nursing and health policy,” Martin Y. Iguchi, PhD, the school’s dean said during the introduction. “I am certain we will learn a great deal from her as she discusses nursing innovations and health care reform.”
The well-known nurse leader was also greeted by several Georgetown fellows, including Amanda Liddle (NHS’94), DrPH, RN, FAAN, assistant professor of nursing, Judith Baigis, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor emerita of nursing, Edilma L. Yearwood, PhD, RN, PMHCNS, BC, FAAN, associate professor of nursing, and Joan Burggraf Riley (NHS’76, G’97), MS, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAAN, associate professor of human science and nursing.
During the lecture, Mason displayed a pyramid reflecting the current health care system, in which acute care formed the foundation.
“What we need to do is flip that pyramid so that the foundation is health promotion, wellness, and public health,” she said. “We should be focusing on how we build healthy communities, healthy families, and healthy individuals. We’ve got to do better on our primary care capacity and care coordination. There’s a lot of attention focused on that with the Affordable Care Act.”
A part of effectively improving the public’s health involves looking at social determinants – such as economic development, access to food and housing, the environment, violence in communities, and educational opportunities – that impact health and well-being, Mason said.
“So where and how is health really created,” she asked. “Is it in the health systems where we spend so much of our time and energy? We, I believe, have to start looking at the upstream factors – the social determinants of health. These are the factors that can prevent people from having to engage in the health care system, other than for prevention and wellness services. And it’s about community development and engagement to a large extent. I believe there is a tipping point that’s about to happen on this.”
Spreading the Message
Mason also highlighted the work of several academy fellows who lead innovative initiatives that have effectively improved the health of individuals, families, and communities, while demonstrating financial savings for the health care system.
She also echoed the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report that says, “Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.”
Iguchi, the school’s dean, noted the power of Mason’s lecture.
“When you have a speaker like Diana share a powerful message that resonates the way that it does, it is incumbent upon all of us to tell it to others,” he said. “This kind of message has a radiating quality, and it’s up to us to spread it.”
By Bill Cessato