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Obama Top Health Official, a Leading Nurse Educator, to Receive National League for Nursing's Prestigious President's Award

Obama Top Health Official, a Leading Nurse Educator, to Receive National League for Nursings Prestigious Presidents Award

HRSA Leader Dr. Mary Wakefield Will Be Special Guest Speaker at NLN Education Summit Opener Wednesday, September 23, 4-6 pm


New York, NY — September 14, 2009 — Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and a leading nurse educator, will be honored by the National League for Nursing on Wednesday, September 23, opening day of the NLNs 2009 Education Summit in Philadelphia. Dr. Wakefield will address the gathering, speaking about the role of nurses and nursing education in the current health care debate.


Dr. Wakefield was named by President Barack Obama earlier this year to the post at HRSA, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services that seeks to expand access to quality health care for people on the economic and medical margins through partnerships with health care providers and health professions training programs. Dr. Wakefield, who joined HRSA from the University of North Dakota (UND), where she was associate dean for rural health at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences; a tenured professor; and director of the universitys Center for Rural Health, will receive the NLN Presidents Award from NLN president M. Elaine Tagliareni, EdD, RN, CNE, in a special ceremony at the Summit. The annual four-day gathering for nurse educators, administrators, and executives of allied health organizations is being held this year at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.


The Presidents Award is given at the Summit periodically to an individual or organization that, in the opinion of the NLN president, is especially deserving of recognition and has made significant contributions to fostering quality patient care through excellence in nursing education and practice.


"It is our great privilege to notify you that you have been selected to receive the prestigious National League for Nursing Presidents Award in recognition of your extraordinary leadership," wrote NLN CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN to Dr. Wakefield. "Your work in rural health care, patient safety, Medicare payment policy, workforce issues, and public policy is truly inspiring. We are honored to acknowledge your accomplishments not only for nursing but for health care."


"In my work to bring access to quality health care to underserved and vulnerable residents of Philadelphia, I have a special appreciation for the challenges Mary Wakefield has taken on during the course of her distinguished career. I will be honored to share a platform with her at the NLN Educational Summit and feel privileged to bestow the NLN Presidents Award on a colleague who has been a role model for all of us in nursing education," said NLN president Dr. Elaine Tagliareni.


When President Obama announced Dr. Wakefields appointment in February, he paid tribute to her long history of service: "As a nurse, a PhD, and a leading rural health care advocate, Mary Wakefield brings expertise that will be instrumental in expanding and improving services for those who are currently uninsured or underserved," said the president, adding, "Under her leadership, we will be able to expand and improve the care provided at the community health centers, which serve millions of uninsured Americans and address severe provider shortages across the country."


Dr. Wakefield brings experience on Capitol Hill to her post at HRSA. In the 1990s, she served as chief of staff to two North Dakota senators: Kent Conrad (D) and Quentin Burdick (D). She also has served as director of the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and worked onsite as a consultant to the World Health Organizations Global Programme on AIDS in Geneva, Switzerland.


Dr. Wakefield is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and was elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies in 2004. She served on the IOM committee that produced the landmark reports To Err is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm. She also co-chaired the IOM committee that produced the report Health Professions Education and chaired the committee that produced the report Quality through Collaboration: Health Care in Rural America.


In addition, she has served on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; as chair of the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; as a member of President Clintons Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry; and as a member of the National Advisory Committee to HRSAs Office of Rural Health Policy.


At UND, Dr. Wakefield also was director of the Rural Assistance Center, a HRSA-funded source of information on rural health and social services for researchers, policymakers, program managers, project officers, and the general public. In addition, UNDs Center for Rural Health, which she directed, administered a $1.6 million award from HRSA under the Critical Access Hospital Health Information Technology Implementation program.


Dr. Wakefield is a native of Devils Lake, ND She has a bachelors of science in nursing from the University of North Dakota in Bismarck and masters and doctoral degrees in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin.

Editors and reporters: For interview opportunities, if you would like to receive a complete Summit schedule, a program book containing all abstracts, or if you would like to attend, please contact NLN chief communications officer Karen R. Klestzick at 212-812-0376,

Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education offering faculty development, networking opportunities, testing services, nursing research grants, and public policy initiatives to its 30,000 individual and 1,200 institutional members.