Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Mary Wakefield is Director and Professor (Tenured) of the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Grand Forks, ND. She has held this position since November 28, 2001. The Center for Rural Health engages in a number of activities including policy analysis, research, and educational initiatives. Priority policy issues include Medicare, quality in health care, Native American health issues and emergency medical services. Dr. Wakefield is also Adjunct Professor at the University of North Dakota, College of Nursing.

Fom January, 1996 - December, 2001, Dr. Wakefield served as Professor and Director of the Center for Health Policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. The Center for Health Policy engages in a number of activities including policy analysis, research, and educational initiatives. Priority policy issues include rural health, Medicare, quality in health care, health workforce, and international health policy.

From January 1993 - January 1996, Dr. Wakefield was the Chief of Staff for United States Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND). In this position she oversaw the legislative, administrative, political, public, and press relations of the office in addition to managing the Washington D.C. office as well as four state offices. From 1987 until 1992, Dr. Wakefield served as Legislative Assistant and Chief of Staff to Senator Quentin Burdick (D-ND). Throughout her tenure on Capitol Hill, Dr. Wakefield advised on a range of public health policy issues, drafted legislative proposals, worked with interest groups and other Senate offices. From 1987-1992, Dr. Wakefield co-chaired the Senate Rural Health Caucus Staff Organization. In this capacity she was directly involved with a wide range of rural health policy issues including recruitment and retention of health care providers, reimbursement, emergency services, telemedicine, among others. In December 1992, she worked as a consultant for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Pearls of Wisdom

Adapted from: Wakefield, M. (2002, Fourth Quarter). What Would Florence Do? Reflections on Nursing Leadership. Honor Society of Nursing. Sigma Theta Tau International.

If we believe we can’t make a difference… We won’t.

Nurses must engage with their elected officials at state and federal levels to do what nurses do best... educate!

Nurses can use organizational structures to press for conversation with elected officials. The challenges before us and the health care industry are too great for nursing to solve on its own and too great to be solved without Nursing’s voice.

Nurses must engage in efforts within health care settings to improve systems of care. All nurses have contributions to make at patient, micro system and organizational levels. But... that is not enough. Nursing’s voice is needed and belongs in the public policy arena.

Through professional organizations, nurses and most specifically advanced practice nurses can cast a wide net of influence by working with policy makers to inform them of both challenges and solutions facing the profession and the population it serves.