Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., was named administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) by President Barack Obama on February 20, 2009. HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
HRSA works to fill in the health care gaps for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable. The agency uses its $9.6 billion annual budget (FY 2011) to expand access to quality health care in partnership with health care providers and health professions training programs.
Dr. Wakefield 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.
“As a nurse, a Ph.D., 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,” President Obama said in announcing her appointment. “Under her leadership, we will be able to expand and improve the care provided 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 on site as a consultant to the World Health Organization's 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). 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 Clinton's Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, and as a member of the National Advisory Committee to HRSA's Office of Rural Health Policy.
Dr. Wakefield is a native of Devils Lake, N.D. She has a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Mary in Bismarck and master's and doctoral degrees in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin.