Nursing Leadership in the US Health Care System

Health policy can be broadly described as the actions that are normally taken by the state, government, nation, and the locals to advance the health of the public. Nurses play a major role in affecting the health policy of the US health care system since they are the backbone of this field (Rainer, 2009).

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One of the major nurses who have a great effect on the policy is Mary K. Wakefield who is the current administrator in HRSA, appointed in 2009. The department is a sector in health and human services that deals with the provision of healthcare to the communities with no access to essential health services and is responsible for the administration of recovery act funds to enhance the U.S healthcare system (HRSA, 2011). Mary is recognized nationally as a rural health expert. She has a BSN, MSN, and Ph.D. degrees that make a big impact on the healthcare system today (Tussing, 2010). Large experience as a rural health nurse in her beginnings and during different years of practice as a medical and intensive unit floor nurse brought her to Capitol Hill to work with Senators and political personnel which moved her towards the HRSA Administration position.

Extraordinary leadership attributes to deal as an administrative and legislative assistant with Senator Quentin Burdick in 1987, staff chief in Sen. Kent Conrad in 1993 helped Mary to manage her role as a nursing leader in Capitol Hill as well as teaching in universities (North Dakota and Mason). She also served as a director for the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics for six years and she acted as a director and professor for the Center for Rural Health in 2001 (ADA, 2010).

Mary’s role has positively affected the health policy development ensuring accessible and quality health services (Tussing, 2010). Through her position in HRSA, she has promoted an experienced workforce in the health care sector (HRSA, 2011). She has promoted rural health through her effective administrative work and nursing experience (Wood, 2011). Wakefield is an expert in rural health where there are many challenges. She works with the communities where health accessibility is difficult showing her great compassion, hardworking to the community, and determination to bring changes to the health sector.

Wakefield, a dedicated nurse since 1976 with skills as an administrator, developer of policies, proper network management, and knowledge of the health care system and rural issues made her unique to represent nursing leadership for this administration. She brought the issue of rural health to the table (Wood, 2011), which is one of my dreams in the future: to serve those in need in the rural area as I did in Ecuador in 1991-1996 with the “underserved and poorer”. She is a nurse who needs to be honored for her contribution to the health sector because her nursing experience and compassion lead her to become one of the most influential health administrators today, an example that professional nurses would like to be. Wakefield learned that: “the economics are such that we have to be creative when determining how to best use scarce resources” (AARP Solutions Forum, 2011).


ADA. (2010). Speaker Bios. ADA. Web.

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AARP Solutions Forum. (2011). Advancing Health in Rural America: Maximizing Nursing’s impact. RWJF. Web.

HRSA. (2011). Mary Wakefield Biography. HRSA. Web.

Rainer, A. P. (2009). Nurse Leaders Paper. Syllabus. Web.

Tussing, M. (2010). Meet HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield. MedillWashington. Web.

Wood, D. (2011). Nurses on the Top 25 Women in Healthcare List. NurseZone. Web.

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