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Marla Prizant Weston '80

Marla Prizant Weston '80When Marla Weston first visited IUP, she was impressed with the university.

“It fit my mental image of what a campus should look like,” she said. “I was sucked in!”

Dr. Weston came to IUP without a clear intent to major in Nursing, but she knew that she wanted to do something that served humanity and involved science but also would involve using her “people-person” skills.

“My mother was a nurse, but, like many young people, I did not want to do what my mother did,” Dr. Weston said with a smile. When she started to look into which profession could combine all her interests, the idea of becoming a nurse came out on top.

She was also impressed with the education she received during her pursuit of her degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which she earned in 1980. Dr. Weston feels that the IUP Nursing program is one of the most notable in the field.

She remembers a comment from when she was a newly graduated nurse: Her supervisor told her she had “an amazing clarity of understanding the role of the profession,” Dr. Weston said.

She went on to attend Arizona State University, where she received a Master of Science in Nursing, and then earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nursing from the University of Arizona, all while working in various positions, including as a critical care clinical nurse specialist, a director of patient care systems, and executive director of the Arizona Nurses Association.

In 1998, Dr. Weston established the Weston Healthcare Consulting Company, assisting hospitals, universities, and community colleges with resource management, recruitment and retention, regulatory compliance, quality improvement, and program development.

She became the program director for Workforce Development with the Office of Nursing Services in the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., in 2007. In 2008, she was named the deputy chief officer of the American Nurses Association, before becoming the chief executive officer in 2009.

Representing more than 3 million nurses nationwide, the ANA is instrumental in developing the standards and scope of practice for registered nurses, as well as lobbying for legislative and policy changes that address nursing and health-care quality concerns.

The move from Arizona to the nation’s capital involved a major “cultural transition,” Dr. Weston said.

“I never worked for the government before,” she said. “I ride the metro, I live in a condo, and I deal with a lot of politics, all of which is totally different from my lifestyle in Arizona, but I am absolutely enjoying it.”

In her position with the ANA, her day can range from speaking on Capitol Hill to having President Obama thank her during a news conference to being a guest on radio talk shows to speak about health issues.

“When I went into nursing, I never imagined there was a job like this,” Dr. Weston said. She feels, though, that her position within the ANA is a continuation of what she trained to do.

“Part of our responsibility as nurses is to educate our patients,” she said.

Dr. Weston’s husband is Richard Weston, a civil engineer. Her daughter, Danica, did not follow in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps by going into nursing, instead receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. However, some of the nursing gene must have been present, as Danica is the program coordinator for the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation.

“Danica said, when she interviewed for the position, she was able to ask very detailed questions about the scope of the program,” her mother said proudly, “which isn’t surprising since she grew up practically surrounded by the nursing profession.”

Profile published on 5/31/12

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