October 26, 2017

Buckley Lecturer Urges Nurses to Get More Involved in Healthcare Decisions

by James Forkan

Speaking at the 12th annual Buckley Scholars’ Lecture March 10, 2017, in Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Harley University Center ballroom, Diana Mason, Ph.D., senior policy service professor at George Washington University School of Nursing, called on nurses to be “at the table where major healthcare decisions are being made.”

Dr. Mason, who also was professor emerita and co-director of Hunter College’s Center for Health, Media and Policy and the immediate past president of the American Academy of Nursing, spoke on the topic “Leading Transformations in Healthcare and Promoting Health.” The 100 attendees included leaders from nursing programs and healthcare organizations in the area.

Pointing to a pyramid chart in her slide presentation, she told her audience that acute care is at the top and wellness/health promotion/public health is at the bottom. In between are recovery care/home care and primary care/care coordination. But she said, “I think we need to flip the pyramid.”

“If we don’t build a strong primary care system,” she warned, “we will not improve the health of the nation … and we will not reduce costs.”

To meet the so-called ”Triple Aim” in optimizing health system performance—by enhancing patient experience, improving population health and cutting costs—she suggested focusing instead on the ”Quadruple Aim” by adding the health and well-being of healthcare providers.

To promote the health of individuals, families and communities, Dr. Mason suggested the formation of community partnerships and the development of nursing-designed innovative healthcare, such as nurse-family partnerships and group family practices and counseling networks.

To accomplish these objectives, she said, “We must bring our [nurses’] voices to the debate over transforming healthcare,” for instance, by joining various boards, commissions and other policy-making bodies whenever possible. “Step up as leaders in transforming health and healthcare.

Dr. Mason herself did so by becoming “the first and only nurse” on the board of directors of Primary Care Development Corp. “I’m dismayed nurses are not at the table where major healthcare decisions are being made,” she said.

The nation may be “No. 1 in health spending,” but it’s “last or next to last in [healthcare] quality, access and efficiency,” she said, adding, “We should be embarrassed.”

As other studies have shown, Dr. Mason said, “Your ZIP Code may be more important to your health than your genetic code.”

Similar discussions at Adelphi have targeted that issue. During a Spring 2016 M.P.H. panel (see story, page 22) and, earlier, at two Center for Health Innovation sessions on public health in the suburbs, speakers explored the relationship between location and diseases like diabetes and obesity among various Nassau County neighborhoods. Those diseases tended to be more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods.

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