Dr. Mason believes nurses have a social responsibility to share their perspectives and knowledge with the public.
By Kristen Mitchell
George Washington University School of Nursing Senior Policy Service Professor Diana J. Mason received two prestigious awards this month honoring her leadership and professional excellence in the field of nursing. Affiliated with GW Nursing’s Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, Dr. Mason is an advocate for empowering nurses with the tools they need to share their knowledge and perspective with the public through media.
The Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing awarded Dr. Mason the Archon Award, which recognizes individuals and groups who have shown exceptional leadership in advancing health and welfare throughout the world. She was honored for her extensive work in policy, nursing education and scholarship.
Dr. Mason was also honored with the M. Louise Fitzpatrick Transformative Leadership Award from Villanova University, which recognizes transformative leadership that has brought about change in nursing, health and/or healthcare with a visionary perspective and a commitment to excellence.
Dr. Mason, who came to GW in 2016, said she is deeply honored to be recognized for her hard work and dedication to uplifting the field of nursing.
“It brings riches to my life, that acknowledgment of the hard work that I've done and my attempts to elevate the profession and help nurses to seize the moment,” she said. “I'm grateful to the GW School of Nursing and to the center for supporting this vision that I have for nursing and nurses, to use media and get their expertise out there. I believe it's their social responsibility to share their perspectives and their knowledge with the public.”
Dr. Mason is the programme director for the International Council of Nurses’ Global Nursing Leadership Institute. She is a past president of the American Academy of Nursing, former editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing, and co-producer and moderator of a weekly radio program on health care issues since 1985. She is the lead editor of the award-winning book, “Policy and Politics in Nursing and Health Care,” now in its 8th edition and the author of more than 200 publications. She is professor emerita and co-director of the Center for Health, Media and Policy at Hunter College, City University of New York. Her scholarship focuses on health policy and she blogs regularly for JAMA Health Forum.
For nearly two decades, Americans have ranked nursing as the most trusted profession. However, nurses have been underutilized by the media and underrepresented as sources compared to other health care professionals, a challenge that was identified in the 1997 Woodhull Study on Nursing and the Media: Health Care’s Invisible Partner. When Dr. Mason and colleagues revisited this study in 2017, they identified barriers that still prevent nurses from engaging effectively with the media and the public.
Nurses are more highly educated than ever, she said, but are rarely taught how to communicate with the media. As a result, expert nurse researchers, scientists, clinicians and policy leaders are being overlooked as sources. Dr. Mason said she’s on a mission to empower nurses with the tools they need to be effective communicators and promote the health of the population.
Nursing students should prepare to be “thoughtfully bold” as they launch their careers in the field, Dr. Mason said.
“We need nurses to share their perspectives,” she said. “They need to demand equal treatment as a team member and to be ready to step up and lead when the moment is there.”